Wednesday, June 15, 2005

New Controversy

Something I've been studying, becasue I've seen so much animosity unfolding in the chruch.

We have reached a time in the history of the chruch when we have got to stop tearing the chruch apart in a civil war over conflicting issues of morality. We must simpley cease demonizing those who do not think as we do. We must cesase meaningless prattle about how clear the truth is and strating to understand the other person. Try to think "maybe they have a reason for seeing that way."

OK Im still not committed to a position, but in the interest of showing people that nothing is as cut and dried as we sometimes think they are, as a cautionary tale against pride in the clear cut, I will show that the verses that seem the most anti-gay really give pause.

Romans 1: 18-32

the problem here is that the words used to suggest the moral status of homosexual acts are actually not words connoting sin, but impurity. You probalby assume as I once did that impurity equals sin, such is not necessarily the case. for example, going to a furneral would make a Jew unclean, or impure. Now does that mean we are going to hell everytime we go t a funeral? We have to get square again to get back in God's grace form the wretched abominable state of funeral going?

How many Evangelicals mix two fabrics in the same garment? Let their wives go to chruch in new dreses with make up and jewelry? These are things that were described as impurity in the Levitical code. Why do we not morun and put a stop to them and call those who do them inhuman and austrocize them?

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness (asebeia) and wickedness (adikia) of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is palin to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

"Therefore God gave them up to the lusts of their hearts to impurity (akatharsia), to the degrading (atimazesthai) of their bodies among thmeselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Notice at this point they already had the sin, and homosexuality is not counted among the sinful things, but as impurity. First they had the sin, then they are given over to impurity. The upshot of impurity is no holiness=not knowing God. Note, given over to impurity it says they didn't know God. But it doestn' count with the actual sins.

"For this reason God gave them up to degrading (atimias) passions. Their women exchanged natural (physiken) intercourse for unnatural (para physin), and in the same way also the men, giving up natural (physiken) intercourse with women, were consumed with passion one for another. Men comitted shameless (dishonorable)(aschemosyne) acts with men and recieved in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

"And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled (pepleromenous) with every kind of wickedness (adikia), evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious towards parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. They know God's decree, that those who do such things deserve to die-- yet they not only do them but applaud those who practice them."

Of course we all know that only gays are prideful and ruthless, foolish ect ect. right? certinly hetero's are never that way. Of course you know I"m kidding. So we all know gays that do NOT fit this discrition, we all know heteros who do. So that is NOT a sing or a way to tell, it is not indicative of what gayness leads to.

But he's talking about human deprativty he's going to wind up telling the reader that we are all depraved and we cannot make ourselves rigetous by keeping the law. along the way he dsecribes a degeration of humanity from knwoing God to idolotors, but we read ito the mix the assumption that homosex is the very worst thing, and so when it comes to that he must be describing the worst thing on earth, right? Wrong.

Its not that clear cut because the words that pertain to homosexual relations used above do not petain to actual sin. The verse Paul speaks of lesbians is the only one in the bible that pertains to them.

The words pertain to that which is unnaural. We assume unnatural equals sin, but that can never be demonstrated in scripture. Moreover, it doesn't mean "Unnatural" In the sense that it's agaisnt physicla nature, it means unnatural for us in a cutlural sense.

taken for example the word (physiken) that is used to describe the kinds of realtions given up by the women in exchange for the wrong kind, the woamn on woman which is (para physin). Both come from the word "phsysis" or Phusys, meaning the natural or relam of nature. (we get our workd "phsics" from those words). para Phyusin just means "not natural." para has many meanings but it can mean the oppossite of something. Well this term doesnt' mean necessarily natural as in contrary to the laws of nature. But means natural as in easy, expected, appropriate. In other words, if it is ashamed for a man to have long hair, it isn't because his hair wont grow, it's because it is normal and expected that he should cut it.

in other words, the term applies to that which is culturally acceptabel. Para Physin applies to that which is not culturally acceptabel. So he's saying that after beign loaded up with iniquity because they turned their backs on God, they then turned to starnge pracitces which the Jews find wired, but not necessarily saying those practices are sinful.

the point of his discourse is not to show homosexuality is wrong, but to show us that we are not capable of bineg holy without God's grace. That is why he ends the passage by saying "you who criticize these people for these things do you do things just as bad, "you are not an idolotor, do you rob temples?"

Another verse that seems on the surface, the way it's translated to issue a blanket statment that homsexuals are among the most viel and will go to hell, turns out ot be very ambiguous and not at all clear cut.

1 Corinthians -10

"Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, {1Cr 6:10)
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God."

Let's look at two key words in this text:

Effiminate = Malakos:

soft, soft to the touch
metaph. in a bad sense
of a catamite
of a boy kept for homosexual relations with a man
of a male who submits his body to unnatural lewdness
of a male prostitute

Homosexual = arsenokoites:

"abusers of self with minkind" or more intelligent than Strong's "those who defile themselves with other men."

Do we know that that is actually talking about Gays? Well, it could be. But if you consider male prostitutes or the kinds of relationships the greeks had, it's not necessarily just talking about any "gay" men. It may not even really be refurring to homosexuals at all, but giving the translators some benifit of a doubt, it could be more speicific than just any gays.

That's the out that I see on either passage; it could be talking about prostitutes and not faithfull metro chruch goes who remian monogomous with each other.

Here's another odd thing about the issue. In the verse under discussion above Paul uses the term Malakos (effeminate). One possible defintion is that of a boy kept for homosexual purposes by an older man. So he says this guy wont make it into the kingdom. But, why not the older man? Why would the boy be the villian? Why not the older guy?

That could be what he means by "those who abuse themselves with others." But then this could change the interp either way. It lends credence to the idea that the homosexual act itself is wrong. It also means Paul is speaking specifically about the kinds of relationships the greeks had and not just any gay relationship.

The latter is more likely, since the only reason to conclude the former would be to put the emphasis upon the act itself, but I dont' know that the word does that; by including both the members of the pair, he seems to be condmen whole relationship, which was maked by force, impossition of a powerful figure upon a socially weak figure who had no choice, and inapproriate age grouping, where older man uses young boy. By including both members he seems to be commenting more on the dynamic of the relationship rather than the actual act.

So the upshot is:

(1) where Paul discusses the actual beahviors and desires of homosexuality, he seems to conmden them only as violations of impurity laws, not as actual sin.

(2) where he does condmen homosexuality as sin it seems to pertian more to the reltaionship dynamic found in ancient greaco-roman soicity not just any homosxual desire per se. To that extent, the use of a young boy as a male prosititute seems to be the kind of things he's condmening.

To that extent are we so sure about condmening some gay couple who faitfully attend a metro chruch, who truely believe in christ and who are not invovled in a wild and gross life? Of course we can believe they all are and let our imaginations run wild, that tells me more about us than it does "them."


ebed-melech said...

The bible was written for (to) believers and although some of your arguments about homosexuality may hold water if the text were considered "out of context" (I know you will tell me the word I really want here), they do not if considered in context (as above).

If a text were discovered written in America, for Americans that used the phrase "he disregarded red lights as he drove through the city", you might conjecture, if you were an anthropologist in the year 3030, that the person driving simply did not look left or right at lights that were red. We, however would have known and accepted that the person was in violation of a widely accepted law, anything else said about it like "blatantly" disregarded, or "blew through" or "at great speed" did not qualify the fact of the violation of law.

The Jews always knew that homosexuality was sinful. Nothing in the new Testament qualified that or changed it in any way, save Jesus who atoned for that sin like all others.

BTW - excellent stuff

J.L. Hinman said...

Yea, but in Rabbinical writtings lesbianism is hardly mentioned at all. I have also heard that not all homoseuxal activities draw the same sort of response. The oral stuff is not seen as real sex so they don't really mess with it (in condmening it).

My point is not to defend gay rights, or gay activiities, or being gay (which Im not). My point is to show that there's more to the issue than just reading that verse in Romans and condmeing gays.

Miss Penny HINKLER said...
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