Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Something doesn't ring true here...

I was looking through some book catalogs yesterday, deciding what to list, when I ran across a book that contained the assertion, "female homosexuality is never forbidden in the Bible." I've run across this several times in the last year or two, so it is not a one-time statement—and it is usually well-known scholars who are stating it.

Now, aside from whether or not homosexuality is condemned in the scriptures (I believe it is), this just strikes me as bad hermeneutics. Why? Well, would these same scholars claim that Paul only meant to include men when he used the word ἀδελφοὶ (adelphoi—brothers)? Of course not! The ancient world was sexist (by our standards); if they wanted to include both men and women, they used the masculine. (I'm old enough to remember when that was true in English, as well, but that is another issue altogether!)

It strikes me as more than a bit disingenuous to claim that the masculine is inclusive in certain situations, and then, when if fits your argument, to say that the feminine is not ever specifically named. Maybe it isn't conscious, but it does make me wonder if we aren't all fundamentalists at heart...

What do I mean by that? Well, when it is convenient, we use one hermeneutic—say an inclusive one. But, when something is dear to our hearts, we change over to a more literal, verbatim reading. What do you think?


That's my 2 cents! said...

We first encounter condemnation of homosexuality, in the NT, in Romans 1. This is the judgment we find in that chapter:

"In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error."

It is ridiculous nonsense to say that the Bible doesn't condemn homosexuality outright for both men and women. If men abandon the natural relations with women, then the obverse is equally true. If women abandon natural relations with men and burn with lust for other women, then they fall under the same condemnation as men who burn with lust for other men.

We should understand the cultural leanings of these people. Male homosexuality would necessarily be the focus since it is the male who was expected to take the lead in all things sexual. A male who was dominated and penetrated by another male would have been demeaned by the sexual act. The one penetrated would be seen as less than male, almost to the level of a woman.

In the cultures, which surrounded the first century church, female homosexuality would not have been seen as much of a problem. Males still would have dominated the women in their lives and had sexual relations with them. What females did in the privacy of their own little spaces would have little meaning. To the church it would have been a moral problem as great as that of male on male sexual immorality would be.

The fact little is written, in the Bible, about female homosexuality, is meaningless. Women did what men wanted them to do. Considering the male dominated culture the fact female homosexuality is given short shrift shouldn't be surprising at all.

In the Bible what goes for the man goes for the woman as well. God does not show partiality. God intends the male and female bodies to be joined sexually. The design of male and female sexual organs are complimentary. Add the evidence of a population of nearly 7 billion people, pregnant women, and babies is all the evidence anyone needs.

Looking at the simple and direct evidence of design coupled with the proof of 7 billion humans (born of sperm and ovum), and homosexuality is problematic on more levels than anyone in the world is willing to acknowledge.

Were it not for the affected culture surrounding us, homosexuality would rightly be considered the result of a disordered mind. And in fact, just 50 years ago, homosexuality was indeed considered the evidence of a disordered mind. The only reason it has become more accepted is everyone in the culture is operating more and more from a disordered mind.

Strip away the technology, and I think Paul would recognize our culture. He would, I think, point us to his epistle to the Roman Church, and then the epistles written to the Corinthians, and Timothy.


jps said...


One comment: in the Roman world the one penetrated was considered demeaned; that was not necessarily true in the Greek world.


That's my 2 cents! said...

Yes, of course you are right. But the cultures surrounding Israel, at their beginning, is Near Eastern/Oriental.

It goes without saying that Greek culture had an enormous impact upon the world, in which Paul lived, ministered and wrote his epistles. Romans, though written to a people who spoke Latin, is written in Greek. That is quite the cultural coup de grace! Still Leviticus, Paul's source, for his thoughts on homosexuality, was, likely, not influenced much if at all by Greek, or non-existent, at that time, Roman culture.

One of the beautiful aspects of what Paul says about homosexuality is that it is rooted absolutely in the Hebrew text. No matter how invasive, persuasive, or dominant Greek language and culture have become, by Paul's time, the New Testament remains firmly and absolutely rooted in the truth God already revealed through His chosen servants of old.

The expectation of the NT is that Christ is the revelation of what the OT says. Christ is God's hermeneutic for the proper exegesis of the Hebrew Bible. Greek thought, powerful as it was could not, finally, change the truth.

It is an important lesson for those today, who place themselves on the front lines of a modern culture war, but miss the power of God's truth to overcome the most powerful cultural influences. I like what Paul says to the Corinthians, "I decided I would know nothing but Christ and Him crucified."

CHRIST AND HIM CRUCIFIED!! Take that Greece! Take that Rome! Take that United States of America!

Hard pressed, but never overcome. If Christ fell to the likes of Greece and Rome, He could not be my God. I'd have kicked Him to the curb long ago, for not being a big enough God. He is able to overcome to the uttermost.


Ralph Hitchens said...

The mores of the ancients have no place in a contemporary discussion of homosexuality. The scientific evidence available today confirms that it is most emphatically biological, not "a disorder of the mind." It exists elsewhere in the animal kingdom, documented by Konrad Lorenz among others. Anyone who has more than a passing acquaintance with a gay person knows that this is not about a disordered mind. These people can be no other way; they are the way God made them. And it goes without saying that scripture cannot be the basis for limiting the constitutional rights of any human being.

jps said...


That wasn't the point of my post; I was discussing the hermeneutical issues.

But, I'm sure Lonnie will argue your conclusions—he knows first-hand. And I'm sure he wouldn't say a person's constitutional rights should be curtailed—of course what constitutional rights are you talking about? I mean that sincerely; I'm not looking for a fight here.