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This post is sub-section 11 of the main essay on this blog, which is entitled "Countering Heterosexist Arguments". The vast majority of the post is directed towards the analysis of scripture in order to demonstrate that whether or not religiously motivated heterosexism has a sound biblical basis is debatable.
THOUGH SHALT NOT JUDGE
Corinthians and Timothy
General Biblical Counters
THOUGH SHALT NOT JUDGE:
Numerous biblical verses condemn judgement in far clearer terms than any condemnation of homosexuality. Romans 2:1;
"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself". Other verses include; 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, Luke 6:37, Luke 6:41, John 8:7, Romans 14:10 & James 4:11.
SCRIPTURAL ARGUMENTS; OLD TESTAMENT:
Heterosexists frequently use the rhetoric "Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve" to try to suggest that their depiction in the Bible demonstrates the exclusion of same sex partnership as a morally valid variant of human relationships:
- The assumption that what is described is the only legitimate variant is unjustified.
- According to the bible, humans were also created naked and it appears likely that the human race was founded on incest.
- Genesis 4:25-26 seems to suggest that Seth (Adam and Eve's son) had a child by Eve for instance.
- There is also no mention in Genesis of any miraculous creation of women from men's ribs after Eve.
One verse commonly used by heterosexists is Genesis 2:24:
"24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed."
- It is highly unsurprising, if God wished for humans to become a whole race, that he would choose to make Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
- Likewise, it is unsurprising that in a chapter about a heterosexual relationship, references to relationships (Genesis 2:24) would refer to a heterosexual one, rather than a homosexual one.
- It therefore seems quite clear that God could easily have chosen Adam and Eve, and not Steve, (and allowed incest) simply to allow for procreation, not as a condemnation of homosexuality.
God created man naked, and man only made and wore clothes after becoming sinful via eating the forbidden fruit:
- Genesis 2:25 explicitly states that man was made naked and unashamed of this.
- In Genesis 3:10, after eating the fruit, Adam hid himself from God apparently due to fear of being seen naked.
- According to heterosexist reasoning (that which was created in the beginning is the only morally legitimate form of existence), all Christians should therefore renounce the evils of clothing and live naked for the rest of their lives.
- An incestuous heterosexual relationship is also likely the only morally legitimate one.
- The sanctioning of polygamy in the OT in particular irrefutably demonstrates that Adam and Eve were a general template, not the only legitimate form a relationship could take.
The Genesis account of the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah is often attributed by religious heterosexists to anal sex:
- The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are not all clearly stated in the bible. 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."
- Many people consider it probable that the sin punished was a lack of hospitality/the mistreatment of foreigners/strangers.
- This is particularly the case as there are many biblical commandments to avoid the mistreatment of strangers.
- In the New Testament, Mathew 10:14-15 and Luke 10:10-12, it is implied that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed due to inhospitality.
- In the Book of Judges, 19-21, The battle of Gibeah that is described greatly resembles S&G and arises from inhospitality and (heterosexual) gang-rape.
- Aside from the peculiarity of assuming that in a story of attempted gang-rape, homosexuality, rather than rape is the sin, a number of other aspects of the story of S&G may be difficult for Christians to explain. These include;
a) How "all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old" (Gen 19:4) were homosexual.
b) How Lot, who offered his two very young virginal daughters to the mob of men to be gang-raped, saying "do what you like with them" (Gen 19:8) is considered to be righteous (2 Peter 2:7).
c) The contradiction between the command not to murder and the mass murder allegedly perpetrated by the biblical deity at S&G, which would of course include numerous infants/babies.
The TV show, "The West Wing", points out some Biblical teachings, many from Leviticus. 2:32
Other things condemned in Leviticus 18-22, that are all located around 2 supposed anti-gay quotations from the bible, include:
- Shaving, - haircuts, - tattoos,
- interbreeding animals,
- wearing mixed fabrics,
- mixing seed in a field,
- sex during a womans period,
- eating meat with blood in it,
- picking up fallen grapes during a harvest,
- eating fruit from a tree during its first 4 years.
Leviticus also repeatedly endorses the death penalty, for a variety of actions, including insolent children, Leviticus 20:9:
"For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him."
- Leviticus 11:12 and the surrounding verses condemn eating shellfish as an "abomination".
- Leviticus 25:44 and the surrounding verses endorse slavery.
- Leviticus may not be the best source for enlightened moral guidance.
- Some translators claim that Leviticus simply condemns male homosexual acts in a women's bed. Culturally, a women's bed was not to be used by anybody except her and her husband.
Romans 1:26-27, KJV:
"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet."
- Paul wrote this in a letter to the Christians of Rome, as stated in Romans 1:7.
- In 1st century Rome, bisexuality was considered to be the cultural norm and was especially practiced in orgies as part of Pagan fertility rituals.
- Some translators argue that verses 26 and 27 actually refer to heterosexuals who behave homosexually in accordance with their culture and pagan rituals, despite being heterosexual, rather than actual to homosexuals.
- By doing this they defy ("exchange") their God-given nature, where as a homosexual behaving homosexually would not be doing so.
- This is particularly the case because the preceding and proceeding verses, such as 1:25, below, are geared towards criticizing Roman paganism and so 1:26-27 is simply part of a list of practises associated with paganism.
Romans 1:25, KJV:
"Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen."
- Religioustolerance gives credence to this possibility with it's analysis of the translation of certain terms in Romans.
As Rev. Dr. Lewis B. Smedes, a distinguished Christian author and ethicist, explains in his essay "Like the Wideness of the Sea?" 01/01/1998;
"The people Paul speaks of had turned from "natural" heterosexual practices to homosexual practices. The Christian homosexuals that I am talking about have not given up heterosexual passions for homosexual lusts. They have never been heterosexual. They have been homosexual from the moment of their earliest sexual stirrings."
"The homosexual people I am talking about do not lust after each other any more than heterosexual people lust after each other. They seek abiding personal companionship, enduring love, shared intimacy and complete trust from each other just as heterosexual people, at their best, do. Their love for one another is likely to be just as spiritual and personal as any heterosexual love can be."
Another line of criticism of Romans 1:26-27 is to point out that in 1 Corinthians 11:14-15 Paul asserts that gender-appropriate hair lengths can be determined by looking at nature:
"Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonour to him, but if a women has long hair, it is a glory to her?"
- Paul's concepts regarding what nature stipulates are clearly incorrect, as most likely, is his supposed assertion that homosexuality is wrong due to it being unnatural.
- Sikh men for instance demonstrate that a man's hair naturally grows just as long as a woman's.
- In 2 Corinthians 11:17, Paul admits that he does not always speak the word of God but sometimes expresses his own opinion, therefore casting further doubt upon the validity of his claims.
- Given that humans are born with a "sinful nature" according to the bible, acting contrary to nature as described in Romans 1:26 would seem to be a very spiritually rewarding thing to do.
As described by religioustolerance (contents of the brackets were added by this author):
"Many religious liberals reject Paul's condemnation of homosexual behavior, particularly when Paul's support for the oppression of women (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, 1 Timothy 2:12-13), and his acceptance of slavery as a normal social practice in (Philemon 1:15-16, Titus 2:9) are considered. They might feel that this passage in 1 Romans should be (similarly) rejected as immoral and outside the will of God.
Corinthians and Timothy:
Paul shares more of his views on sexuality in 1 Corinthians 7 (NIV):
"3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband."
"5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do."
"12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord)"
- 1 Cor 7:3 and 5 Seem to mandate that sex is for mutual pleasure, not just procreation.
- In 1 Cor 7:6-8 Paul shares his own views again, rather than always speaking for God. He then claims that he wishes all were celibate, just as both he himself and Jesus were, further weakening any heterosexist proclamations of the sacrality or essentiality of procreation.
- Matthew 19:12 similarly endorses celibacy and may additionally recognise the legitimacy of homosexuality: "For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb... and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake."
- 1 John 2:5-6 further undermines procreation by imploring adherents to "live as Jesus did".
- Yet again in 1 Cor 7:12, Paul shares his own views, rather than God's. The bible itself therefore repeatedly claims that Paul does not always speak for God, making it hard to decipher when he actually is.
- In a chapter 1 Corinthians 12:4-5, there is a reference once more to the "gifts" Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 7:7, when he was discussing relationships and marriage:
"4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord."
1 Corinthians 6:9-10, KJV:
"9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (malakoi), nor abusers of themselves with mankind (arsenokoitai),
10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."
"The original Greek text describes the two behaviors as "malakoi". -- some sources quote "malakee" -- and "arsenokoitai".
"Malakoi" is translated in both Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25 as "soft" (KJV) or as "fine" (NIV) in references to clothing.
"Although "homosexual" is a very common translation, it is almost certain to be inaccurate:
If Paul wanted to refer to homosexual behaviour, he would have used the word "paiderasste." That was the standard Greek term at the time for sexual behaviour between males.
The second term is "arsenokoitai" in Greek. The exact meaning of this word is lost. It seems to have been a term created by Paul for this verse. "Arsen" means "man" in Greek. So there is no way that "arsenokoitai" could refer to both male and female homosexuals. It seems that the translators gave in to the temptation to widen Paul's condemnation to include lesbians as well as gay males."
"Homosexual offenders:" The NIV contains this phrase. Suppose for the moment that Paul had attacked "heterosexual offenders" or "heterosexual sexual offenders." We would not interpret this today as a general condemnation of heterosexuality."
"At the time of Martin Luther, "arsenokoitai" was universally interpreted as masturbator. But by the 20th century, masturbation had become a more generally accepted behavior. So, new translations abandoned references to masturbators and switched the attack to homosexuals. The last religious writing in English that interpreted 1 Corinthians 6:9 as referring to masturbation is believed to be the [Roman] Catholic Encyclopaedia of 1967."
- 1 Timothy 1:9-10 is also regarded as a heterosexist verse by some but it simply uses the word "arsenokoite" again, so it's true meaning is unknown.
- Arsenokoite is used without malakoi in Timothy, suggesting that the two words may not even be connected.
The link below cites many ancient texts to provide a detailed exposition of the word "malakoi":
- It does mean "effeminate" but according to the ancient Greek understanding, not the modern one.
- It is a misogynistic term and refers to a broad range of characteristics which would not be considered effeminate today. According to Dale Martin, Yale University Professor of Religious Studies:
"In fact, malakos more often referred to men who prettied themselves up to further their heterosexual exploits."
- It is sometimes argued that arsenokoite is derived from the Levitical condemnation of homosexuality, which includes the words arsene (male) and koite (beds).
- The link above also provides an example of how the logic employed to associate arsenokoite with the Levitical condemnations of homosexuality is flawed:
"To "understand" does not mean to "stand under." In fact, nothing about the basic meanings of either "stand" or "under" has any direct bearing on the meaning of "understand.""
- Ladybirds or even ladybugs are another example of words which have a meaning not derived from their constituent term's literal meanings. They are not all female, not birds and not even technically true bugs.
- The word "ladykiller" is an example where a literal interpretation would almost reverse it's meaning.
Another usage of the word Arsenokoitai:
"A revealing use of it appears around 575 A.D.; Joannes Jejunator (John the Faster), the Patriarch of Constantinople, used the word in a treatise that instructed confessor priests how to ask their parishioners about sexual sin. Here it appears in the context of a paragraph dealing with incestuous relations, and if translated as ‘homosexuality,’ the sentence containing it would read “In fact, many men even commit the sin of homosexuality with their wives.” (Patrologiae cursus completus, Series Graeca, 88:1893-96) Though at the time it apparently referred to anal or oral sex or to sex forced upon a woman, it pretty clearly had nothing to do with homosexuality."
- The reality is that the meaning intended by "arsenokoite" is unknown, which is why there tends to be great variation in how it is translated in the various versions of the bible.
Another verse sometimes used against homosexuals is Jude 1:7, KJV:
"Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
However, as ReligiousTolerance points out:
"Jude might have been referring to:
The intent of the mob to rape the angels. Rape is a clear perversion of God-given sexuality.
The fact that the angels were non-human. This would have made their sin of rape even worse; bestiality would have been involved."
- The term "strange flesh" in particular could refer to the flesh of strangers.
- "Strange" is derived from the Greek word "heteras", which is used in Hebrews 7:13 to refer to those of "another tribe", I.E. strangers.
- Jesus never actually mentioned homosexuality at all, making it very hard to see how it could be considered to be a particularly terrible sin.
- Christian heterosexists sometimes take Mathew 19 to be indicative of Jesus's views about it but it doesn't refer to homosexuality at all.
- In Matthew 19:3, the Pharisees ask Jesus if it is "lawful for a man to divorce his wife".
- Jesus responds by reiterating genesis and explaining that "what God has joined together, let no one separate".
- Unsurprisingly, Jesus refers to a man and women in his response because he is asked about a man and a woman.
- As the CEV and NIV titles for this section describe, it is about divorce, nothing else.
Counters to the Bible in General:
Deuteronomy 22:20-21 commands the stoning to death of non-virgin brides, NIV:
"20 If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found, 21 she shall be brought to the door of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death."
Deuteronomy 22:28-29 commands raped women to marry their rapist and never divorce, NIV:
"28 If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, 29 he shall pay her father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the young woman, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives".
- Note that the 10 commandments are also found in Deuteronomy.
- Matthew 25-32 describe how the wife of a man who dies is to become his brother's wife and so on, repeatedly, even for as many as seven brothers. Verse 30 additionally makes the supposedly vital role of marriage seem questionable; "For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven".
- Using the bible to regulate marriage would in reality be quite an unsettling prospect for most modern-day Christians, given the above and the fact that it claims that you should be of the same religion to marry (2 Corinthians 6:14).
According to the bible, we all sin (Rom 3:23), though redemption can be found via faith in Jesus. The modern Christian heterosexist's justification for their overzealous criticism of homosexuality, relative to other perceived sins, is often that homosexuals are "living in sin". This implies repeated sexual relations outside of marriage:
- The only difference between having sinned and "living in sin" appears to be that the sin is repeatedly performed, therefore seemingly negating the possibility that the sinner is seeking or finding redemption.
- Applying this criterion consistently would therefore mean that any "sin" that is repeatedly performed would make the perpetrator just as morally deficient as a homosexual.
- Gluttony, remarriage and lust (Matthew 5:28) are all examples where most of the population are repeatedly sinning, with about 68% of the U.S. population being gluttonous and over 18% of first marriages leading to remarriage within five years. These people are effectively living in sin.
- Both the above and minority stress make Matthew 23:13 perfectly applicable to heterosexists; "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to."
Remarriage and Gluttony Condemned:
Divorce and remarriage is adultery according to Mark 10:11-12:
"11 He answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.”"
Gluttony is repeatedly condemned within the bible, such as in Philippians 3:18-19 (see below), Proverbs 23:2, Proverbs 23:21 and Deuteronomy 21:20:
"For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things."
Remarriage and Gluttony's Prevalence:
The CDC, "Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the United States. Series Report 23, Number 22. 103pp" found that:
"After 10 years, the probability of a first marriage ending is 33 percent".
"The probability of remarriage among divorced women was 54 percent in 5 years".
The CDC, "Prevalence of Overweight, Obesity, and Extreme Obesity Among Adults: United States, Trends 1960–1962 Through 2007–2008" found that:
"Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are obese: 33.9% (2007-2008)
Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are overweight (and not obese): 34.4% (2007-2008)"
1 John 4:7 appears to indicate that ultimately, all love is divinely inspired and worthy of recognition and appreciation, with no suggestion that this excludes homosexual love:
"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God".
This video is highly recommended viewing for religiously motivated heterosexists, who are likely to find most of it very agreeable. 2:52
One of a 7 part lecture, which particularly tackles Catholic arguments against homosexuality. 9:24
Rev. Mel White, an evangelical Christian, relates his journey of coming to understand homosexuality as a gift from God. 2:49
- Genesis provides a generic template for relationships, not stringent restrictions, as evidenced by the sanctioning of polygamy and incest.
- The sin(s) of Sodom are not clearly stated.
- Leviticus condemns benign activities and sanctions and commands abhorrent ones. Many Christians claim that it refers to culturally rather than morally condemned practices.
- All supposed NT condemnations of homosexuality except Romans use malakoi and arsenokoite. Arsenokoite appears to be translated in numerous different ways because it's meaning is unknown.
- Romans seems to be a condemnation of Paganism and it's associated practices, rather than homosexuality as it exists today.
- Jesus did not mention homosexuality at all.
Theism can not justifiably be used in a rational debate because it is itself unjustified:
- This is why Abrahamic religions typically have the requirement of having "faith".
- If this were not true then God's existence and nature would be demonstrable to anybody.
- This fact alone is entirely sufficient to refute any attempts to use religious conviction alone as a justified argument against homosexuality or anything else.
- To construct a sound argument involving a god, a theist must 1) Prove that a god exists, 2) Prove that it has the nature/will that they ascribe to it, 3) Prove that we should capitulate to it, 4) Prove that we can do this.
God himself feels that he should not interfere with free will:
- Despite this meaning that he lets people sin, and allows all human evil to occur.
- It is difficult to understand why some theists feel that they have more right than their God to interfere with the free will of his creation using anti-LGBT legislation.
- Homosexuality is after all a victimless "crime".
- Other victimless crimes, such as drink/drug driving, revolve around the principal of potentially harming non-consenting individuals, which is not a factor with homosexuality.
There is no universal factor in religious teachings that defines the specific distinction between what is moral, amoral or immoral:
- There are only arbitrary, unjustified condemnations.
- All things that are morally bad should have at least one principal in common.
- This thing would encompass the essence of what it is to be immoral (or virtuous).
- Murder, rape and theft all involve deliberately harming others, while homosexuality does not.
- If the unifying factor of sin is that it is condemned in the bible then a believer would have to concede that they would consider murder, rape and torture etc of first-born infants to be a moral prerogative, if these things had happened to be biblically endorsed.
- To disagree with this would mean the believer was being inconsistent and therefore using a fraudulent, incorrect definition of morally good/bad/sin.