Clobbering the “Clobber Passages”

There are six main biblical passages that Christians typically use to condemn homosexuality, and I’d like to address each of the passages. The passages are the creation story of Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 19:4-5, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1, I Corinthians 6:9-10, and I Timothy 1:9-10.

 

As a Christian who takes the Bible seriously, and believes it serves as a guide for faith and practice and is useful for instruction in righteousness, I believe it is necessary for me to take these verses seriously, to understand what they mean, and to change my behavior if I encounter biblical teaching that is contrary to the way I am currently living. I also believe it is necessary for heterosexual Christians to do the same. We are instructed by Paul not to accept any teaching without first trying and testing it. This is, I believe, what I have done with these six scriptures.

 

The issue hits even a bit closer to home for us, because I am gay, and you are my parents. The three of us are in the middle of this charge of the apostle Paul to test what we have been taught. While others who are not as closely related to the issue at hand may sit back and form an opinion based on what they’ve heard others say and preach, it is our responsibility to delve into these passages, to study the contexts in which they were written, and to discover what the actual Hebrew and Greek words mean. It is not always the case that the English translation is an accurate one with respect to context and the original language.

 

I have spent hundreds of hours pouring over these passages, in prayer and a process of discernment, willing to change if the Spirit of God brought to light a meaning opposed to my orientation. However, the more I have studied and prayed, the more I have been assured by that same Spirit that the Bible nowhere condemns homosexuality across the board. It is not my intention in writing this to change your mind on the issue, but simply to show you what I have discovered in this process of discernment. All I ask is that you read it, pray about it, and come to your own conclusions.

 

I will take each passage as introduced above.

 

Gen 1:26  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have

dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and

over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Gen 1:27  And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male

and female created he them.

Gen 1:28  And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

 

This is the passage I will take least time addressing, because try as I have, the passage cannot be made to condemn homosexuality. What we see in verse 27 is that God created men and women in the image of Himself, blessed them, and gave them charge over the earth. From this passage, we can see that God blesses heterosexual relationships, but not that He condemns homosexual relationships.

 

I think one of the things that have contributed to this passage being used to condemn homosexuals is intellectual laziness. Westerners are not taught how to properly reason anymore. One of the basic rules of logic is that an argument based on silence is not really an argument at all. If a passage does not teach something, we cannot derive an article of faith or practice from it. This basic rule of logical engagement holds true here.

 

Genesis 1 (and the creation story at large) simply blesses heterosexuality. The passage is silent on the issue of homosexuality, and really, why should it not be? The creation story was not written as a theological treatise or an early form of “Faith and Practice.” It is a story that tells us that we are God’s creation, that we are blessed, that He created us good. To deduce from this original blessing that God condemns homosexuality is not only mistaken, it is a dishonest use of scripture.

 

Some have said that the charge from God to “be fruitful and multiply” implicitly condemns homosexuality since homosexuals are unable to have children. The answer to that line of reasoning is a bit laughable in its simplicity. If those who say this are right, does that then mean that heterosexual couples who are unable to have children are also condemned? How about people who feel God has called them to a life of singleness or couples who simply choose not to have children? Jesus himself even commends those who choose to be eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven (see Matthew 19:10-12). The instructions of God to produce offspring are instructions given to Adam and Eve, and could possibly be taken as a generalization for life thereafter. But it is not a necessary universal principle. Again, to make it one is to ignore the context and to be dishonest with scripture.

 

Gen 19:4  But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed

the house round, both young and old, all the people from every quarter;

Gen 19:5  and they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men that came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

 

The story of Sodom is probably one of the most misunderstood, misinterpreted, and abused stories in the entire Bible. There are many issues I want to raise concerning this passage. I will do so numerically and in the form of questions, and then I will elaborate on each point.

 

  1. Was every man in Sodom a homosexual?
  2. Why would Lot offer homosexual men his daughters?
  3. Are there any cultural peculiarities of the ancient Middle East that would help us understand this passage?
  4. Do other passages in the Bible expound on the sin of Sodom? If so, what do they have to say about it?

 

The passage says that every man, young and old, from every quarter of the city, demanded that Lot give up the two male visitors to be raped. It is amazing to me that someone can read this passage and come away with the idea that committed homosexual relationships are being condemned. I think the only way that such an interpretation can happen is the continual ingraining of perpetual sermons opposed to homosexuality in which this passage is used as the text.

 

It is simply not possible that the men of any city, then or now, would be completely homosexual. There must have been some heterosexual men. This fact alone should tell us that there is more to the story than meets the eye. There must be some contextual ingredient we are missing, because otherwise, the plot just makes no sense. If the passage said “some of the men of the city” demanded to rape the visitors, an anti-homosexual reading may make more sense. But the fact that the passage states all the men of the city wanted to rape the visitors puts of a warning sign: why would every single man of a city want to have sex with two male visitors? {see cultural context below for an answer}

 

Another factor directly from the story showing that the passage is not about homosexual men is this: Lot offered his daughters to appease the men. If Lot knew the men of the city were homosexual, what could he have possibly been thinking by doing this? There is no way to understand this part of the story if we do not first look at the cultural background of the ancient Middle East.

 

Cultural Context

 

It was common for cities in the ancient Middle East to be wary and outright unwelcoming towards strangers. There was a city, and even more, a way of life to protect. Any unknown person (or group of people) coming into a city was often not welcome. It was also common within the culture to shame a man by forcing him into anal intercourse. Opposed to this culture of unwelcome was the Jewish teaching of hospitality. As you will see shortly, it was this lack of hospitality that was seen as the sin of Sodom, not any kind of sexual act. To the Jewish people, not welcoming the stranger (aka “the alien”) was an abomination. It was expressly forbidden by Yahweh.

 

It is this sin that the men of Sodom were trying to commit. They were attempting to intimidate and shame the angelic visitors by raping them. The story is not at all one about homosexual relationships, but one primarily about hospitality and a welcoming into the community. Ironically, rather than condemning homosexuality, the true meaning of the Sodom story condemns an unwelcoming stance towards those who are different.

 

Biblical Expositions of the sin of Sodom

 

Isa 1:9  Except Jehovah of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as

Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

Isa 1:10  Hear the word of Jehovah, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people

of Gomorrah.

Isa 1:11  What unto me is the multitude of your sacrifices? saith Jehovah: I have had enough of the

burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of

lambs, or of he-goats.

Isa 1:12  When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to trample my

courts?

Isa 1:13  Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; new moon and sabbath,

the calling of assemblies, – I cannot away with iniquity and the solemn meeting.

Isa 1:14  Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I

am weary of bearing them.

Isa 1:15  And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make

many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

Isa 1:16  Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to

do evil;

Isa 1:17  learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Eze 16:49  Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fulness of bread, and prosperous

ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.

 

It is evident from the Genesis 19 story of Sodom itself, and from the expositions of Isaiah and Ezekiel, that the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, but rather oppression, lack of care for the outcast, and inhospitality. It takes nothing more than reading at face value and a bit of contextual evaluation to discover the true meaning of the story.

 

 

Lev 18:22  Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

 

It is absolutely necessary to understand the historical and religious contexts of the Levitical laws before understanding the meaning of the laws. The laws are given in Leviticus for a very specific purpose – to separate the early Hebrews from the pagans surrounding them. Leviticus 18:22 is a ritual, religious code, specifically for the high priests of the Jewish religion. The prohibition found in verse 22 is within the context of commands for Jewish priests not to participate in idolatrous sexuality of any kind (see vss. 21, 24) including the worship of Molech. It was for the express purpose of calling them out as a different people from the tribes around them (vs. 24).

 

More to the point, the word translated “abomination” is the Hebrew word toevah, meaning “ritually unclean.” The aspect of ritual is necessary for understanding the meaning of the word. It is only related to religious purification, in the sense of being unpolluted by surrounding religious ideologies. It does not imply something that is intrinsically evil. That is why the same word is used for eating pork, shellfish, lobster, meat more than three days old, trimming beards, etc. The main idea is ethnic contamination, not intrinsically immoral activity.

 

If the authors of Leviticus wanted to condemn homosexuality as an inherently moral evil, there was a perfectly good Hebrew word they could have used: zimah. This is the Hebrew word which means “wrong in itself.” Once we understand the religious context of the Levitical laws and the meaning of the Hebrew word toevah, we see that Leviticus 18:22 is not about homosexuality per se, but about male temple prostitution as practiced by the surrounding pagan religions. See I Kings 14:24 as a cross reference.

 

Rom 1:25  for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the

creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Rom 1:26  For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the

natural use into that which is against nature:

Rom 1:27  and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due.

 

It is helpful to read the entire first chapter of Romans before coming to any kind of the judgment on the homosexual behaviors mentioned in Romans 1: 26, 27. For sure, the chapter does speak to certain kinds of homosexual sex. When read in context of the entire first chapter, and with Leviticus 18:22 and I Kings 14:24 as cross references, it becomes evident what Paul is actually writing about.

 

The chapter is set within the framework of idolatry, specifically making reference to sexual prostitution in sacred, pagan temples. What is really interesting to note is that in verses 24 and 25 of Romans chapter 1, Paul seems to be describing immoral heterosexual acts, the degrading of bodies and sexual impurity of heterosexual temple prostitution. Why then, would verses 26 and 27 not also be about temple prostitution?

 

There is an order that Paul takes when going from verse 18 to verse 32. Paul is talking about people who have seen the hand of God in the created order, but have chosen to worship that creation rather than the One Who created it. It is this act of making idols of the created order that this sexual immorality takes place. How is this possibly related to committed homosexual relationships, specifically Christian ones? Paul’s attention, when writing Romans 1:18-32 is squarely on pagan idolatry. If he wanted to condemn homosexual relationships outright, why do so within an explicit context of pagan idolatry?

 

1Co 6:9  Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not

deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of

themselves with men,

1Co 6:10  nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

 

1Ti 1:9  as knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and

unruly, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and

murderers of mothers, for manslayers,

1Ti 1:10  for fornicators, for abusers of themselves with men, for menstealers, for liars, for false swearers, and if there be any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine;

 

I will deal with the Corinthians and Timothy passages simultaneously since they utilize the same Greek words, arsenokoitai and malakos. These terms are ambiguous in their meaning (see how various translations differ in their renderings), and the word arsenokoitai seems to have been coined by Paul himself. It is not used before he used it in I Corinthians, and is very rarely used after him by other non-biblical authors. It is probably that Paul coined the word by combining two words from the Greek Septuagint in reference to Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 – ­arsen “male” and koite “bed.

 

It has been translated most often as “sodomites” (though the sin of the Sodom had nothing to do with homosexuality), “homosexuals” (a blatant mistranslation), “homosexual offenders,” and “abusers of themselves with mankind” (KJV). Luther actually translated it as “child abusers,” which if taken to mean pederasts may be closest to the original meaning. None of these translations are completely accurate however.

 

Whatever the case, arsenokoitai expresses certain homosexual actions, not identity. Had Paul wanted to express homosexuality within a mutual relationship, there were other commonly used Greek words available to him. He coined arsenokoitai for a specific reason.  Just as in Romans 1, Paul takes his idea of homosexual behavior from Leviticus. As we’ve already discussed concerning Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-28, Paul condemned homosexual behavior only as it related to temple prostitution or idolatry.

 

The other Greek word used in these passages is malakoi. It is typically translated as “effeminate” or “homosexual prostitute.” The literal meaning of the word is “soft.” What is strange about the translation of malakoi as “effeminate” is that in Paul’s day, most men who participated in homosexuality did not have their manhood called into question. In fact, the word malakos can be found used for certain heterosexuals in Greek literature of the same period. The most reasonable translation is “those of moral weakness” or “soft in morality.”

 

The whole anti-homosexual Christian culture is based on six passages of scripture, three in the Old Testament and three in the New Testament. As I have shown, none of the passages present a blanket condemnation of homosexuality. In two of the New Testament passages, biblical scholars do not even know for certain what Paul was talking about.

 

It is not blasphemous to question theological and doctrinal positions that have been handed down to us. In fact, it is blasphemous not to question the teaching we receive. The Church had it wrong for so long on the humanity of black people and the humanity of slaves. Might it be possible that it has also been wrong on the question of homosexuality? Let the evidence speak for itself.

 

Rev. Daniel Payne

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14 Comments
  1. Rev. Payne, I enjoyed your thorough and well-written article on this subject. Now a 61-year-old heterosexual woman, raised in a Christian household, I have long rejected the “Christian” condemnation of homosexuals and so appreciate your examination and explanation of Biblical scripture on the matter. Today, Unitarian Universalism has proven the only path for me to remain part of a congregation of worshippers, a congregation accepting of all, just as Jesus was accepting.

  2. Rev. Payne,
    I enjoyed reading your article. I now have some information that I can use. This website has been a great inspiration to me. My husband and I have just recently left the Catholic Church because of differences in beliefs. Specifically, the lack of punishments for priest pedophiles and the increased political activities that seems to run contrary to the teachings in the Bible. We live in Oklahoma which has a large evangilical christian following and we don’t belong to this group either. So I guess you can say that we are without a church. So this website has been my church and the articles are my eulogy. Thank you for every thing.

  3. I myself make no judgment of the person but only of the act itself, based upon what I believe scripture teaches. The following is my response to the “Clobbering the Clobber Passages” article.

    Mr. Payne wrote:
    There are six main biblical passages that Christians typically use to condemn homosexuality, and I’d like to address each of the passages. The passages are the creation story of Genesis 1:26-28, Genesis 19:4-5, Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1, I Corinthians 6:9-10, and I Timothy 1:9-10.

    Response:
    I would like to use the same six verses to give a different view than the one presented by Mr. Payne.

    Mr. Payne:
    As a Christian who takes the Bible seriously, and believes it serves as a guide for faith and practice and is useful for instruction in righteousness, I believe it is necessary for me to take these verses seriously, to understand what they mean, and to change my behavior if I encounter biblical teaching that is contrary to the way I am currently living. I also believe it is necessary for heterosexual Christians to do the same. We are instructed by Paul not to accept any teaching without first trying and testing it. This is, I believe, what I have done with these six scriptures.

    Response:
    I too am a Christian who takes the Bible seriously and can say Amen to all the above, including the last statement. Yet my conclusions will be different. How can we explain that?

    Mr. Payne:
    The issue hits even a bit closer to home for us, because I am gay, and you are my parents. The three of us are in the middle of this charge of the apostle Paul to test what we have been taught. While others who are not as closely related to the issue at hand may sit back and form an opinion based on what they’ve heard others say and preach, it is our responsibility to delve into these passages, to study the contexts in which they were written, and to discover what the actual Hebrew and Greek words mean. It is not always the case that the English translation is an accurate one with respect to context and the original language.

    Response:
    I am heterosexual but I feel it is my responsibility to delve into these passages as well because I believe the Lord would have every believer know the truth and know what position to take on any given issue. There may be exceptions but none come to mind at the moment.

    Mr. Payne:
    I have spent hundreds of hours pouring over these passages, in prayer and a process of discernment, willing to change if the Spirit of God brought to light a meaning opposed to my orientation. However, the more I have studied and prayed, the more I have been assured by that same Spirit that the Bible nowhere condemns homosexuality across the board. It is not my intention in writing this to change your mind on the issue, but simply to show you what I have discovered in this process of discernment. All I ask is that you read it, pray about it, and come to your own conclusions.

    Response:
    Multitudes have poured over this blessed book for years; many no doubt, prayerfully as well; yet a simple click of the mouse will yield proof-positive that a multitude of interpretations has been the result. How can that be? The basic problem is the tendency for one and all to “read into” scripture rather than reason from the scriptures out. It is not what I think or you think but what the Lord says about a passage’s interpretation that is important and the only way to be assured of that is letting scripture validate itself. The word must agree with itself and support itself. There may be many applications of scripture, but only one correct interpretation.
    I will take each passage as introduced above.

    Mr. Payne:
    Gen 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have
    dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over the cattle, and
    over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
    Gen 1:27 And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male
    and female created he them.
    Gen 1:28 And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

    This is the passage I will take least time addressing, because try as I have, the passage cannot be made to condemn homosexuality. What we see in verse 27 is that God created men and women in the image of Himself, blessed them, and gave them charge over the earth. From this passage, we can see that God blesses heterosexual relationships, but not that He condemns homosexual relationships.

    Response:
    It doesn’t condemn homosexuality? Of course not. Neither does it condemn pedophilia, nor a host of other aberations. It would be a waste of time looking for such here. But the fact that they are not condemned is also no cause to think this gives support to anything other than the heterosexual relationship. But, as you say, that “God blesses heterosexual relationships” is plain and clear for He “made them male and female” and told them to “be fruitful and multiply”. It was the propagation of the species that He had in mind and he sets the pattern for that. The fact that ‘this’ or ‘that’ is not condemned here is not brought into play at all. But what is brought into play is the natural man-woman relationship; there can be no doubt about that.

    Mr. Payne:
    I think one of the things that have contributed to this passage being used to condemn homosexuals is intellectual laziness. Westerners are not taught how to properly reason anymore. One of the basic rules of logic is that an argument based on silence is not really an argument at all. If a passage does not teach something, we cannot derive an article of faith or practice from it. This basic rule of logical engagement holds true here.

    Response:
    I cannot agree with your premise statement here for it would seem to suggest that if I were anything but intellectually lazy, I would come to the same conclusions regarding these passages as yourself. Well, I am not that and yet I have not come to those conclusions. So, there must be something other than intellectual laziness that can explain the difference in understanding. The “silent” argument I agree with for it forms the basis of my foregoing comment.

    Mr. Payne:
    Genesis 1 (and the creation story at large) simply blesses heterosexuality. The passage is silent on the issue of homosexuality, and really, why should it not be? The creation story was not written as a theological treatise or an early form of “Faith and Practice.” It is a story that tells us that we are God’s creation, that we are blessed, that He created us good. To deduce from this original blessing that God condemns homosexuality is not only mistaken, it is a dishonest use of scripture.

    Response:
    I agree with most of what you say above. However, should I be asked to give a scripture-supported commentary on the question of sexuality, of whatever form, I would indeed start with the verses above, not to “condemn homosexuality” but to give support to heterosexuality. That, I believe, is why most go to these verses first; it establishes a basis for heterosexuality. It is a positive, and should be used as a positive only. Other portions will either support this basis or be a corollary of it.

    Mr. Payne:
    Some have said that the charge from God to “be fruitful and multiply” implicitly condemns homosexuality since homosexuals are unable to have children. The answer to that line of reasoning is a bit laughable in its simplicity. If those who say this are right, does that then mean that heterosexual couples who are unable to have children are also condemned? How about people who feel God has called them to a life of singleness or couples who simply choose not to have children? Jesus himself even commends those who choose to be eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven (see Matthew 19:10-12). The instructions of God to produce offspring are instructions given to Adam and Eve, and could possibly be taken as a generalization for life thereafter. But it is not a necessary universal principle. Again, to make it one is to ignore the context and to be dishonest with scripture.

    Response:
    I think you have stated the above correctly. Again, we are not to make the positive into a negative. It is in the collective sense, not the individual, that the proclamation to go forth and multiply is issued. Individual circumstances, preferences and callings may preclude a particular individual from fulfilling this; thus it is important not to go further than scripture indicates.

    Mr. Payne:
    Gen 19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed
    the house round, both young and old, all the people from every quarter;
    Gen 19:5 and they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men that came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.

    The story of Sodom is probably one of the most misunderstood, misinterpreted, and abused stories in the entire Bible. There are many issues I want to raise concerning this passage. I will do so numerically and in the form of questions, and then I will elaborate on each point.

    Response:
    The one thing missing from this whole commentary is the mention of ‘sin”. We are only into the 19th chapter and already we have brought before us the fall of man and his being ousted from the garden in chapter 3; we have the great wickedness in the earth and the resulting devastating flood of the 6th chapter; we have the record of man’s attempt to reach heaven by his own means and the resulting confusion of languages of the 11th chapter; and here in the 19th we have the sinful degeneration of man in the earth that resulted in Abraham’s being called out from among the nations in the 12th chapter. It is in the context of the state of man as found in those cities of the plain that we must weigh what God is saying to man in general. So before we consider the four questions raised below by Mr. Payne, let us ponder the last question posed of the Lord by Abraham in the previous chapter, and its answer, “Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And He said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake”.

    Mr. Payne:
    Was every man in Sodom a homosexual?
    Why would Lot offer homosexual men his daughters?
    Are there any cultural peculiarities of the ancient Middle East that would help us understand this passage?
    Do other passages in the Bible expound on the sin of Sodom? If so, what do they have to say about it?

    The passage says that every man, young and old, from every quarter of the city, demanded that Lot give up the two male visitors to be raped. It is amazing to me that someone can read this passage and come away with the idea that committed homosexual relationships are being condemned. I think the only way that such an interpretation can happen is the continual ingraining of perpetual sermons opposed to homosexuality in which this passage is used as the text.

    Response:
    Really? Does the passage and dialogue not point to the fact that it is the intended homosexual act that is being condemned? Is not this the ‘wickedness’ that Lot is trying to get his fellow citizens to refrain from? He would offer his daughters for their use, as repulsive as this must have been to him, rather than have those strangers who took shelter under his roof to be so wickedly treated.

    Mr. Payne:
    It is simply not possible that the men of any city, then or now, would be completely homosexual. There must have been some heterosexual men. This fact alone should tell us that there is more to the story than meets the eye. There must be some contextual ingredient we are missing, because otherwise, the plot just makes no sense. If the passage said “some of the men of the city” demanded to rape the visitors, an anti-homosexual reading may make more sense. But the fact that the passage states all the men of the city wanted to rape the visitors puts of a warning sign: why would every single man of a city want to have sex with two male visitors? {see cultural context below for an answer}

    Response:
    Not possible? On who’s authority? If I were to find myself on a strange street in a strange city and was suddenly surrounded by a group of intended evil-doers, I might report of it later as saying, “They all came from everywhere, young and old alike, and surrounded me on every side”. Would you think I meant every single male turned up to do me in? Not likely. But, in Lot’s case, we have more, for we have the word of God to tell us there were not ten righteous people, let alone ten righteous men, living in that city. I think it makes complete sense in that context. Still, I do not think every single male from that city showed up at Lot’s door that night; it’s a mute point.

    Mr. Payne:
    Another factor directly from the story showing that the passage is not about homosexual men is this: Lot offered his daughters to appease the men. If Lot knew the men of the city were homosexual, what could he have possibly been thinking by doing this? There is no way to understand this part of the story if we do not first look at the cultural background of the ancient Middle East.

    Response:
    The passage may not be about homosexual men, but it is most certainly about the homosexual act. That the perpetrators are seeking sexual gratification is evident from Lot’s offer, and Lot knows that to deflect their attention to his daughters is a viable option and, to him, the lesser of two evils for this latter would be the ‘natural act’, at least. Lot knew his fellow Sodom dweller well, as Peter records in 2 Pet.2, “Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)”. Let’s not try to put any face on this activity other than what scripture states it to be: wickedness.

    Mr. Payne:
    Cultural Context
    It was common for cities in the ancient Middle East to be wary and outright unwelcoming towards strangers. There was a city, and even more, a way of life to protect. Any unknown person (or group of people) coming into a city was often not welcome. It was also common within the culture to shame a man by forcing him into anal intercourse. Opposed to this culture of unwelcome was the Jewish teaching of hospitality. As you will see shortly, it was this lack of hospitality that was seen as the sin of Sodom, not any kind of sexual act. To the Jewish people, not welcoming the stranger (aka “the alien”) was an abomination. It was expressly forbidden by Yahweh.

    Response:
    Here is where Mr. Payne attempts to bring something “into scripture” whereby it might more properly be understood. We know what is said about those who “add to” the Word of God. But even if we accepted this ‘revelation’, how gullible would one have to be to believe that this “wickedness” is about ‘lack of hospitality’, and not the intended rape of these two men? That those at the door clamoring for the men “that we might know them” were concerned about protecting “their city and their way of life”? Peter tells us what their way of life was “day by day”, and for Mr. Payne to suggest that these men were about a honourable quest, or that Lot was attempting to teach them a lesson in Jewish hospitality, is nothing short of ludicrous. And to suggest that Yahweh would be concerned about the “abomination” of inhospitality more than the intended act of the rape of these men, borders on sacrilege.

    Mr. Payne:
    It is this sin that the men of Sodom were trying to commit. They were attempting to intimidate and shame the angelic visitors by raping them. The story is not at all one about homosexual relationships, but one primarily about hospitality and a welcoming into the community. Ironically, rather than condemning homosexuality, the true meaning of the Sodom story condemns an unwelcoming stance towards those who are different.

    Response:
    If that were so, that “they were attempting to intimidate and shame the angelic visitors by raping them”, then Lot should have been aware of the practice, don’t you think? And if he were aware of it, then it would be pointless for him to offer his daughters, for that wouldn’t intimidate or embarass the strangers, would it? For you, Mr. Payne, to attempt to turn this story of Sodom into one which “condems an unwelcome stance towards those who are different”, shows clearly your own colours and your own agenda, rather than being a true “process of discernment”. You are interpreting the passage to suit your orientation. It does not support your conclusions. These men were guilty of far more than being a poor “Welcome Wagon”, as you would have us believe.

    Mr. Payne:
    Biblical Expositions of the sin of Sodom
    Isa 1:9 Except Jehovah of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as
    Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

    Response:
    In other words, wiped out completely.

    Mr. Payne:
    Isa 1:10 Hear the word of Jehovah, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people
    of Gomorrah.

    Response:
    Sin by association; they had fallen into the same state of affairs that brought down God’s judgment on those two cities.

    Mr. Payne:
    Isa 1:11 What unto me is the multitude of your sacrifices? saith Jehovah: I have had enough of the
    burnt-offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of
    lambs, or of he-goats.
    Isa 1:12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to trample my
    courts?
    Isa 1:13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; new moon and sabbath,
    the calling of assemblies, – I cannot away with iniquity and the solemn meeting.
    Isa 1:14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me; I
    am weary of bearing them.
    Isa 1:15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make
    many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
    Isa 1:16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to
    do evil;
    Isa 1:17 learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.
    Eze 16:49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fulness of bread, and prosperous
    ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
    It is evident from the Genesis 19 story of Sodom itself, and from the expositions of Isaiah and Ezekiel, that the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, but rather oppression, lack of care for the outcast, and inhospitality. It takes nothing more than reading at face value and a bit of contextual evaluation to discover the true meaning of the story.

    Response:
    The 19th of Gen. has been clarified. Both Isaiah and Ezekiel gave prophetic warnings as to what would happen to Israel if they continued living in the way of Sodom and Gomorrah. They were showing how wicked and defiled they, as the chosen people of God, had become and what had happened to those two cities should have been sufficient warning to them. Wickedness, not social inappropriateness, is what’s being addressed. The 14th of Ezekiel is a good commentary on how far Israel had digressed; they were like unto Sodom and Gomorrah, but had fallen also well beyond the sexual aberrations only.

    Mr. Payne:
    Lev 18:22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
    It is absolutely necessary to understand the historical and religious contexts of the Levitical laws before understanding the meaning of the laws. The laws are given in Leviticus for a very specific purpose – to separate the early Hebrews from the pagans surrounding them. Leviticus 18:22 is a ritual, religious code, specifically for the high priests of the Jewish religion. The prohibition found in verse 22 is within the context of commands for Jewish priests not to participate in idolatrous sexuality of any kind (see vss. 21, 24) including the worship of Molech. It was for the express purpose of calling them out as a different people from the tribes around them (vs. 24).

    Response:
    Mr. Payne, you had better re-read that chapter 18 in Leviticus again for you are woefully mistaken. Neither verse 22, nor any of the orhers, are directed towards “the high priests of the Jewish religion”; they are for the people as a whole. But let not just me say that; let the word speak for itself. “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them”. Now read all the following verses which start with, “Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of…for all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled” [27] . And verse 22, the forbidding of lying with man-kind as with woman-kind, is not “a religious code” but a straigthforward abomination, an ‘abominable custom’ as the last verse of the chapter indicates.

    Mr. Payne:
    More to the point, the word translated “abomination” is the Hebrew word toevah, meaning “ritually unclean.” The aspect of ritual is necessary for understanding the meaning of the word. It is only related to religious purification, in the sense of being unpolluted by surrounding religious ideologies. It does not imply something that is intrinsically evil. That is why the same word is used for eating pork, shellfish, lobster, meat more than three days old, trimming beards, etc. The main idea is ethnic contamination, not intrinsically immoral activity.

    Response:
    I am no Hebrew scholar but I’ve looked for the word “toevah” in the Hebrew dictionary and can’t find it. But let’s assume it is real and means exactly that, “ritually unclean” instead of “abomination” . Ritual purification was for the purpose of removing all uncleanness before the worship of diety (God). Thus man lying with man would be exactly that. But the context of the chapter does not present preparation for worship; it presents a plenary list of abominable customs as practised by the former inhabitants of the land, customs we might add, that resulted in their being ousted from that land in favour of the children of Israel.

    Mr. Payne:
    If the authors of Leviticus wanted to condemn homosexuality as an inherently moral evil, there was a perfectly good Hebrew word they could have used: zimah. This is the Hebrew word which means “wrong in itself.” Once we understand the religious context of the Levitical laws and the meaning of the Hebrew word toevah, we see that Leviticus 18:22 is not about homosexuality per se, but about male temple prostitution as practiced by the surrounding pagan religions. See I Kings 14:24 as a cross reference.

    Response:
    I think they did in the 22nd verse; can you get more direct than that, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind”? I couldn’t find “Zimah” in that dictionary either. It matters not. It is not “temple worship” that is the subject of this chapter but the “customs” practised beforehand. And the 1 Ki.14:24 reference to “Sodomites” being in the land is in agreement with the common practise and not the worship. They are called Sodomities because they practised “sodomy” which many dictionaries rightly describes as “abnormal sexual relations, especially between two males”. If inhospitality was the sin of Sodom then how inhospitable were they to have this recorded of them by Moses in chapter 13:13 of Genesis, “But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly”, and this by the Lord himself in 18:20, “Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grevious”? Furthermore, do you think it is for lack of social graces that the following verse was written to Israel in Deut. 23:17, “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel”? How much clearer can scripture be?

    Mr. Payne:
    Rom 1:25 for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the
    creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
    Rom 1:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the
    natural use into that which is against nature:
    Rom 1:27 and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due.
    It is helpful to read the entire first chapter of Romans before coming to any kind of judgment on the homosexual behaviors mentioned in Romans 1: 26, 27. For sure, the chapter does speak to certain kinds of homosexual sex. When read in context of the entire first chapter, and with Leviticus 18:22 and I Kings 14:24 as cross references, it becomes evident what Paul is actually writing about.
    The chapter is set within the framework of idolatry, specifically making reference to sexual prostitution in sacred, pagan temples. What is really interesting to note is that in verses 24 and 25 of Romans chapter 1, Paul seems to be describing immoral heterosexual acts, the degrading of bodies and sexual impurity of heterosexual temple prostitution. Why then, would verses 26 and 27 not also be about temple prostitution?

    Response:
    There is neither pagan nor Jewish temple worship discussed in this chapter; this is man displayed in his departure from God, operating in the lust of his flesh, giving himself over to “vile affections” of every sort, but focusing especially on women who have left their “natural use” and on men who have left the “natural use” of the woman turning to those of the same sex, “men with men working that which is unseemly”. And what is Paul saying about it all? Just this. The Son of God has been revealed, by contrast, “according to the spirit of holiness” (4), and the wrath of God is now revealed “against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (18), because they idolized the creature more than the Creator, and lusted after everything that was forbidden, including inordinate sexual relations. The whole chapter is a condemnation and a warning to man, “that they which commit such things are worthy of death”.
    There is an order that Paul takes when going from verse 18 to verse 32. Paul is talking about people who have seen the hand of God in the created order, but have chosen to worship that creation rather than the One Who created it. It is this act of making idols of the created order that this sexual immorality takes place. How is this possibly related to committed homosexual relationships, specifically Christian ones? Paul’s attention, when writing Romans 1:18-32 is squarely on pagan idolatry. If he wanted to condemn homosexual relationships outright, why do so within an explicit context of pagan idolatry?
    “How is this possibly related to committed homosexual relationships, specifically Christian ones?” you ask. Because the act proceeds from the heart! So you believe that two homosexuals, professing to be Christians, engaged in the same act as two homosexuals, pagans by confession, are “sanctified” by their ‘Christian’ stance? That it is not the act itself that is the abomination, but the fact that they are “pagans”? Wow! That is a revelation! Can I apply that logic, I wonder, to other areas of my Christian life, such as making an illicit withdrawal from my bank, or reporting my actual earnings to my government? Hear what scripture says that it is that defiles a man. “And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding…those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man” (Mt.15:16-18). The sin of idolatry is in the heart first and then it manifests itself in the act, and it is so whether one, or two in this case, is a professing believer or not. It must be judged while it is in the heart (that’s what confessing our sins is all about) that it not become displayed in a defiling act.

    Mr. Payne:
    1Co 6:9 Or know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not
    deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of
    themselves with men,
    1Co 6:10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
    1Ti 1:9 as knowing this, that law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and
    unruly, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and
    murderers of mothers, for manslayers,
    1Ti 1:10 for fornicators, for abusers of themselves with men, for menstealers, for liars, for false swearers, and if there be any other thing contrary to the sound doctrine;

    I will deal with the Corinthians and Timothy passages simultaneously since they utilize the same Greek words,arsenokoitai and malakos. These terms are ambiguous in their meaning (see how various translations differ in their renderings), and the word arsenokoitai seems to have been coined by Paul himself. It is not used before he used it in I Corinthians, and is very rarely used after him by other non-biblical authors. It is probably that Paul coined the word by combining two words from the Greek Septuagint in reference to Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 – ­arsen “male” and koite “bed.
    It has been translated most often as “sodomites” (though the sin of the Sodom had nothing to do with homosexuality), “homosexuals” (a blatant mistranslation), “homosexual offenders,” and “abusers of themselves with mankind” (KJV). Luther actually translated it as “child abusers,” which if taken to mean pederasts may be closest to the original meaning. None of these translations are completely accurate however.
    Whatever the case, arsenokoitai expresses certain homosexual actions, not identity. Had Paul wanted to express homosexuality within a mutual relationship, there were other commonly used Greek words available to him. He coined arsenokoitai for a specific reason. Just as in Romans 1, Paul takes his idea of homosexual behavior from Leviticus. As we’ve already discussed concerning Leviticus 18:22 and Romans 1:26-28, Paul condemned homosexual behavior only as it related to temple prostitution or idolatry.
    The other Greek word used in these passages is malakoi. It is typically translated as “effeminate” or “homosexual prostitute.” The literal meaning of the word is “soft.” What is strange about the translation ofmalakoi as “effeminate” is that in Paul’s day, most men who participated in homosexuality did not have their manhood called into question. In fact, the word malakos can be found used for certain heterosexuals in Greek literature of the same period. The most reasonable translation is “those of moral weakness” or “soft in morality.”

    Response:
    Little defence need be made of these scriptures; they speak for themselves. That the whole context is about the condemnation of the practises listed is a given. All is a negative and, as you say with reference to the “abusers of themselves with mankind”, it “expresses certain homosexual actions, not identity”. The fact that I may identify within myself a penchant towards kleptomania or pedophilia or voyeurism or homosexuality, or a host of other tendencies, only goes to show the magnitude of the fall of man (sin having entered God’s creation) but impinges upon me the need to not let these tendencies transform themselves into overt actions. I am to master such tendencies and not have them master me.

    Mr. Payne:
    The whole anti-homosexual Christian culture is based on six passages of scripture, three in the Old Testament and three in the New Testament. As I have shown, none of the passages present a blanket condemnation of homosexuality. In two of the New Testament passages, biblical scholars do not even know for certain what Paul was talking about.
    It is not blasphemous to question theological and doctrinal positions that have been handed down to us. In fact, it is blasphemous not to question the teaching we receive. The Church had it wrong for so long on the humanity of black people and the humanity of slaves. Might it be possible that it has also been wrong on the question of homosexuality? Let the evidence speak for itself.
    Rev. Daniel Payne

    Response:
    The six passages in question have formed the basis of this rebuttal to what you have penned Mr. Payne. I need write no more. You, and all who practise such an abomination as homosexuality (not the only sin we need concern ourselves about but the one under consideration here), need to take the exhortation Paul gives in 2 Cor. 15:5, “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves”. If ye are in the faith, well and good, but then you must examine the practise in which you are engaged for the Word says clearly, it is an “abominable custom”. “The Church” may have gotten many things wrong, but Scripture never has. The evidence, I believe, has spoken for itself.
    Rebuttal by Derek Mollon who can be reached at derek.mollon@nl.rogers.com.

    Bible of Lilienfeld (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  4. I read through your article posted here. I had several observations and questions.

    1) Genesis 1 also nowhere condones homosexual behavior. Although, Gen 2:24 tells us that God defines marriage as between a man and a wife who become one flesh, something which by definition homosexuals could never do or be.

    2) It seems a straw man argument to talk about God’s blessing on them to multiply as a major argument against homosexuality. It isn’t a major argument.

    3) You stated that people use Genesis 19 as an argument to condemn a “committed” homosexual relationship. However, most surveys I’ve read indicate that, depending on the survey, about 80-90% of homosexuals have 100’s of partners in their lives. Are you saying only the 10-20% of homosexuals in committed relationships are OK, but the other ones aren’t? In any case, the Bible also condemns “committed” heterosexual relationships (unmarried people living and sleeping together and going steady with only each other. It’s called fornication (1 Co 6:9).

    4) Why do you make no mention of Jude 1:7 which clearly states that Sodom was destroyed because the people engaged in “sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire”? “Unnatural desire is the same phrase Paul uses when he talks about homosexuality in Romans 1. 2 Pe 2:6-7 also makes mention of their sensuality. Were you ignorant of those verses?

    5) Incidentally, the Jude verse and the Genesis account strongly indicates they were engaged in both heterosexual and homosexual sin. Clearly many of these men were bisexual, which also explains why Lot offered the men his daughters. Many were clearly bisexual. Again, they were clearly also engaging in heterosexual sexual immorality.

    6) You make a statement that Middle Eastern cultures were anti-hospitable to strangers as a whole. That is categorically wrong. So it’s not surprising you gave no reference to support your point. And the idea that it was common practice to engage in anal sex to shame a man is a figment of your imagination. Indeed, if it was so common, then why did God single out Sodom and Gomorrah only? Why not the whole Middle East?

    7) Furthermore, you state that “to the Jewish people not welcoming the stranger was an abomination”. The problem is the Jewish people didn’t yet exist at this time. The nation of Israel didn’t exist yet. Abraham hadn’t even had one child yet. Indeed the law would not be given to Moses until over 430 years later.

    8) Isaiah 1:9-17 nowhere implies or says that Sodom wasn’t sexually immoral. Ezekiel 16:49 does state that they were punished because of their bad treatment of the poor. However, if you read on to verse 50 it says that “they were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them when I saw it.” This is a clear reference to the story in Genesis 19 with the men attempting sexual immorality with the angels. So even this verse also makes reference to their sexual immorality. And certainly, nowhere does scripture suggest they weren’t sexually immoral.

    9) You mention that Lev 18:22 is a reference to ritual uncleanness. Actually the word “to’ebah”means “something that is extremely displeasing to God”. And verse 22 is found in the middle of a group of commands all about sexual sins only. This group of commands go together and are introduced like this, “the Lord spoke to Moses saying, ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them…” (Lev 18:2). So actually all the commands in this group, including verse 22 were to all the people of Israel and not just the priests.

    10) Furthermore, you said verse 22 was not “instrinsically evil”. If that’s the case, then is verse 20 also not intrinsically evil when it says“You shall not lie sexually with your neighbor’s wife and so make yourself unclean with her”? (Lev 18:20) In other words, is it OK to commit adultery and not intrinsically evil? If I follow your reasoning, I would need to believe this.

    11) Just two verses after giving the command in verse 22 to not have a man lie with a man as a man does with a woman, the Lord says this to all the people of Israel:“Do not make yourselves unclean by ANY of these things, for by ALL these THE NATIONS I AM DRIVING OUT before you have become unclean, and the land became unclean, so that I punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants. But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and DO NONE of these abominations, EITHER THE NATIVE OR THE STRANGER WHO SOJOURNS AMONG YOU, (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you” (Leviticus 18:24-28).

    a. This command in verse 22 and all the other verses of chapter 18 weren’t just for the people of Israel, but for all the foreigners who would pass through the land, in other words all other people as well. So much for making this command as a distinction only for Israel.

    b. Furthermore, the Lord makes it clear that the reason the other nations were punished and driven out of the land of Israel was primarily because they participated in all sorts of sexual immorality as described in chapter 18, including the homosexuality mentioned in verse 22.

    12) Also, why do you make no mention of Leviticus 20:13? This verse says, “‘If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them” Also, this verse is found in the midst of a list of connected commands which come after the statement, “The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Say to the PEOPLE OF ISRAEL…” (Lev. 20:1). So again, this command too is given to all the people of Israel and not just the priests.

    13) You mention that the homosexuality mentioned in Romans 1 is about temple prostitution only. But then why doesn’t Paul mention a temple? He clearly does mention idol temples in 1 Co 8, why not here? If it’s only about what happens in pagan temples, then what about the evil, covetousness, envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness, gossip, slander, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless and ruthless behaviors also mentioned in verses 18-32? Are those vices also only restricted to the pagan temples? If I follow his logic, I must conclude that. Furthermore, Paul taught that greed is idolatry (Col 3:5). So clearly temples aren’t needed for idolatry, not even statues.

    14) Also, actually the word in 1 Co 6:9 is “arsenokoites” which means “men who have intercourse with men”. Sorry, Bible scholars really aren’t confused over that one.

    15) Finally, you make the statement that the whole “anti-homosexual Christian culture is based only on six main verses”. I think my brief response here makes it clear there are far more than six verses and indeed you failed to mention some of the most important. Indeed, there are many which I have not mentioned which make it clear homosexuality is a serious sin.

    16) I agree there is nothing wrong with questioning doctrinal positions and digging a bit. But if because of love of some sin, we work hard to produce positions that contradict very clear teaching about the wrongness of that sin, as this unfortunate person has done, then we are in a lot of trouble. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn 1:8-9). It is my sincere prayer and hope that this individual and others like him may find true freedom in Christ. As Paul stated, and some of my friends who are former homosexuals have testified, “and such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of God” (1 Co 6:11).

  5. @Robert Dale: Well executed and thought out line of reasoning and questions. Kudos for you for having the courage to post it in the face of the pressure to validate and raise homosexuality to a norm, as opposed to demonstrating tolerance.

  6. This is exactly why I think so many Christians are either uncertain or just downright confused over the argument of the acceptance or rejection of homosexuality. I have seen over the past several years that the same passages are used by defenders of both sides of the issue to defend their argument. I have tried to understand both sides of the argument, and I have tried to defend both sides of the argument. I have come down at last on the side that does not defend homosexuality, and yes, I have been accused of being intellectually lazy, bigoted, unresponsive to the Holy Spirit, and many other things. I am indebted to both Robert Dale and Derek Mollon for their excellent rebuttals; indeed, they have stated the points much better than I could, supporting their arguments and refuting the opponent’s argument without attacking them personally.

  7. Sadly, gay people are today’s ni**ers. It’s that simple. Many people need a “whipping boy” and gay people provide their outlet. Jesus’ love and inclusion of outcasts is all that is needed for churches and society to extend love and inclusion to gay people.

  8. Daniel. I believe in your sincerity to find the truth. I also believe in your sincerity to change when the truth is presented. God expects all Christians to have this attitude. So I am humbly submitting my rebuttal to your arguments.

    First. I am in agreement with you that the Genesis passage does not explicitly condemn homosexuality, but I find a weak spot in your argument. The creation of male and female and the command to be fruitful and multiply all happen before the fall. Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world. It is conceivable that if sin had never entered the world every man and woman would be able to give birth to children. As a result of sin entering the world the entire world has been affected. So now not every man and woman can have children. I really didn’t see your argument on that point being that strong. It is also conceivable to imagine that the entire concept of homosexuality would have never entered the minds of humans if the fall never had happened. These of course are conjectures and really serve no purpose in the argument against homosexuality.

    Your exegesis on the Gen 19:4-5 passage is the typical homosexual argument I’ve seen before and is rather weak. If we assume that you are correct in your analysis of the ancient Eastern world, then why did not God destroy all inhospitable cities. Why did he just choose Sodom and Gomorrah? There was something much worse and evil about these two cities than other cities. No, I don’t think they were destroyed because of homosexuality (I agree with you there), but I don’t think they were destroyed for inhospitality as well. That is just ridiculous to say. Their evil had gone beyond the evil of other cities and it was exemplified in the way they wanted to treat Lot’s guests. Lot was trying to satisfy their lust by offering his two daughters who would have undoubtedly ended up dead if the angels had not interfered. The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were judged for their evilness.

    I find nothing in Isaiah 1 that supports the idea that Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for inhospitality. Isaiah 1:9 says “Except Jehovah of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” In context Isaiah is saying that God’s grace spared Israel. If God had not left a small remnant it would have been utterly destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah had been.

    Up to this point, I agree that these passages really have no bearing on homosexuality, unless you accept that the evilness of Sodom and Gomorrah was demonstrated in the desire of these men to have sex with the angels.

    I find your analysis of Leviticus 18:22 the most disturbing and shows your emphatic bias. The law written here is not a “ritual, religious code, specifically for he high priests.” I don’t see how you can even come to that conclusion when at the beginning of 17:1 it says “Speak to Aaron and his sons and to ALL THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL.” This section of Leviticus is clearly concerning morality and not ritual.

    Also, you were a little misleading when you said that toeba, translated as abomination, only meant ritual actions. Brown-Driver-Briggs says that this word is used in the ritual and ethical sense. Mounce’s Theological Dictionary says toeba “denotes persons or actions that are morally or religiously offensive, especially to God.” Reading Leviticus 18:22 in context clearly shows that God was speaking of an immoral act and not a ritual act. Also, every instance of this word in Leviticus is in the ethical sense.

    In Deuteronomy it is largely used in the ritual sense but even then it crosses over into the ethical sense. In particular when God calls the practice of sacrificing children to idols an abomination. This is clearly a ritual and ethical abomination.

    It is clear from Leviticus that homosexuality (and any type of sexual behavior that is outside the marriage relationship of one man and one woman) is morally wrong.

    And so when Paul writes about homosexuality in Romans 1 he clearly has Leviticus in mind (just as you said). Even if we take your interpretation that Paul is specifically speaking of temple prostitution we still can see that he condemns the practice based upon the immorality of homosexuality stated so clearly in Leviticus.

    The words arsenokoitai and malakos clearly are used to describe both parties in the homosexual relationship. Homosexuality in Rome was a bit different than it is here. In our society many homosexuals are both givers and receivers, but in Roman society one was usually the dominant male role and the other the submissive female role. One word describes the dominant male role and the other describes the submissive female role. Usually such acts were between an older man and a younger boy (apprentice). History verifies this. So it makes complete sense. Paul condemns not only the aggressive dominant in the relationship, but he wants the submissive party to know that what they are doing is an abomination (according to Leviticus).

    I hope this adds to your investigation into the Scriptures concerning homosexuality.

  9. Hello All,

    Just to let you know – I’ve read the supportive and critical replies here, and appreciate both. I will not be replying to the critiques only because in my experience, these kinds of “conversations” become circular and we pretty much already know what the other person is going to say.

    Peace,
    Rev. Daniel

  10. Thank you so much for clarifying in understandable form the true meaning of these passages. I’ve struggled with this issue for some time, and have been in conflict with the doctrine of my church. This helps me as I pray and listen for guidance from God. I truly appreciate the time and work that men like yourself put into researching these issues. It helps build my faith.

  11. Rev Daniel:

    I just found this so forgive the late response. With all due respect, why publish your findings, to then end with “we pretty much already know what the other person is going to say.”

    I am gay, so don’t assume anything about me. However my position is the same. The sins mentioned, whether they are related to idol worship or not, are still pointed out as sin. To use your logic, as the other readers pointed out, would be completely irrational. They are respectfully asking for an answer to that. Take the gay out of the equation, and follow your logic regarding the other sins mentioned in Romans. You put yourself out there with your study, and the counter positions deserve and answer; and one that makes sense.

  12. @ Robert, your comment that gay people are today’s n*ggers, is offensive. Your comment is part of the reason that some black people are suspicious about gay rights – because people are trying to take the continuing struggles of black people in America and project them onto gay people. We black people have our own fights and you trying to project that onto gay people is not okay.

  13. Thanks so much Dr. Payne! For what it’s worth, I’m gay myself and very concerned about how these passages are used to harm people, so I very much appreciate your kind and thoughtful treatment of the material.

    There is one point I would like to raise, from a more academic viewpoint. Paul did not invent the word arsenokoitai. He got it from the Greek translation (called the Septuagint) of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.

    Aresenokoites is the literal Greek translation of the Hebrew phrase “zakhar mishkevei” that appears in those two verses.

    For some reason this is not widely recognized but the two words “arseno koites” definitely do occur together in the Septuagint of Lev 18:22 and Lev 20:12.

    What that means for interpretation is up for debate. Personally I think Paul misunderstood the original phrase, and that it had commonly been misinterpreted for at least 400 years. In Greek, it definitely means “man beds.”

    But in Hebrew, both of the two words are ambiguous. Zakhar tends to mean a “sacred male” – consecrated for some purpose, like a priest, an animal about to be slaughtered, or a soldier who may also be about to be slaughtered. Mishkevei is a gerund that means “lyings” – places of lying down. Besides the two occurrences in the Leviticus clobber passages, various forms of the word mishkevei occur 44 times in the Old Testament, and every single time it means “bed.” Well, except for the clobber passages. There, it is traditionally interpreted as a euphemism for “have sex with.”

    In my opinion, it should not be intepreted differently in Leviticus just so that there is ONE plausible anti-gay statement in the entire OT. Instead it should be read as bed, which is what it means everywhere else. (the “m” at the beginning of a gerund usually but not always means a “place”)

    So this ambiguity leads to several different more literal readings of the Leviticus phrase. It could mean either

    Thou shalt not lie with priest like a woman does. or
    Thou shalt not lie with a man in a woman’s bed. or
    Thou shalt not lie with a priest in a woman’s bed…

    The bottom line for me is that this is the ONLY phrase in the entire OT that has a plausible anti-gay message, and we have to read it as an obscure and ungrammatical euphemism in order to get it to be anti-gay.

    In Hebrew, it is not Paul reads it as a euphemism for

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