Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

>Rick and Bubba and LGBT Pride

June 11, 2010

>In an email from Rick Burgess of the Rick and Bubba show, the holy man states that what I called a ‘rant’ was actually a “presentation of BIBLICAL truth about sexual sins for those of us who claim a BIBLICAL world view.”

I normally refuse to engage in debate with people like him, but what he said was so offensive that I felt compelled to send him an email. After all, this is LGBT Pride Month, according to 40 year tradition since the first gay pride march in 1970, and according to the proclamation by the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

In fact, that proclamation was what got Rick all hot and bothered. Here’s the video of his rant.

Now, I do not enjoy criticising people because of their faith, because I actually feel a bit sorry for them. Well, maybe there is some enjoyment, because possibly they are becoming educated.

People with a “Biblical Worldview” think that the world is only about 5000 years old, that people lived with the dinosaurs (think “Flintstones”), and that Noah had a mosquito net and caught two Anopheles gambiae mosquitos, (the ones that transmit malaria, responsible for infecting over 200 million people and killing 1 – 2 million per year) along with a couple of Onchocera volvulus worms (the ones that cause river blindness in about 18 million people) and a pair of the Simulium black flies that spread the debilitating disease. (Try keeping those, along with thousands of other arthropod and worm species alive for 40 days on an ark.)

I could go on but you get the picture, I hope.

I have written enough on this blog about the Bible that I don’t need to repeat the passages here that are affirming to the LGBT community. Just look to the left, and you can see some links to popular posts about the subject.

But Rick did say this in his email. “…we gain control over our sin through the power found in
CHRIST who then changes our desires when we love him enough for HIS grace and MERCY to obey HIS commands as he calls us to do in several places in the BIBLE but none more simple than JOHN 14:15 if you love me then obey my commands.”

The truth is, Jesus did not say one word about homosexuality. Nothing that could be mis-translated, or mis-directed, to condemn homosexuals. Nothing, Rick!

He also says this in more than one email that I have seen “…I felt that i was born as most straight men with a disposition to sleep with several women other than our wives” and that he overcame that desire through Christ.

Fine. Even though this just seems a little creepy as well as bragging (like “I wanna make sure you know I had a lot of sex before I found Christ, ladies”) it seems a little strange that one would need to call on God to do what should just be the decent thing to do. Are you that depraved? Well, he would say “yes,” because of “sin”.

That is just a big fat excuse. He can think about adultery all he wants without acting, call on Christ to keep him from falling, but if he does fall, “Oh, it was just sin that made me do that. Let me play my “get out of hell” card and start over.”

Rick also said in that video clip that President Obama didn’t observe the National Day of Prayer, and I heard that same lie from other right wing talk show hosts. Rick said, “I would love to have seen a nice long letter on the National Day of Prayer but we didn’t get that.”

If you had been paying attention, Rick, you would have seen this “long letter”, the proclamation released by the Obama administration on April 30, 2010, which included this:

“NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 6, 2010, as a National Day of Prayer.”

Rick Burgess, and others like him, ride the high horse of the Biblical World View, and talk about living a moral life and all, but have no reservations about telling lies and distorting the truth for the sake of bringing down our president, and getting higher ratings for their radio show.

I have a little proclamation of my own.

Now, therefore, I, Joe the blogger, do proclaim Rick Burgess and his sidekick Bubba Bussey as Alabama redneck trash unworthy of lending an ear to, and an embarrassment to our state. I forever ban them from my radio.*

*I do reserve the right to watch their Youtube videos in order to monitor their hate speech.

Happy LGBT Pride, all my Alabama brothers and sisters, and do not let the words of this man or anyone else dissuade you from enjoying this celebration of your being and your life.

Here’s short video of the start of last year’s Central Alabama Pride parade, including the Alabama Stonewall Democrats truck, which will be in this year’s parade with the message, “Together we can…”

Come out Saturday night near Five Points South and celebrate with us!

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>The Bible and Homosexuality: Part 4 Jesus and the Centurion

April 13, 2010

>This is the fourth and final segment in my series on homosexuality and the Bible. The series is in response to questions raised by a letter writer in the Western Tribune.

Read part 1 (Leviticus) here Part 1

Read part 2 (Romans) here Part 2

Read part 3 (Jonathan and David)here. Part 3

This is the fourth in my series on homosexuality and the Bible.

In the New Testament Jesus himself affirms a same-sex relationship in the story of the centurion coming to Jesus and pleading for his servant’s healing, a familiar story.

Jesus offers to come to the centurion’s house but the soldier refuses, saying that all Jesus needed to do was to speak the word and his servant would be healed. The story is told in Matthew 8 and Luke 7.

The Greek word used in this story is pais, which could have three meanings depending on the context in which it was used. It could mean “son” or “boy”, it could mean “servant”, or it could mean a particular type of servant who was his “master’s male lover”. Servants were often purchased to fulfill that role, and the term pais sometimes describes that type of servant.

Why would we think that pais has this meaning in this passage? Look at the passage in Luke. In Luke the one who was sick is described as an entimos duolos.

Duolos is a generic term for a slave, and was never used to describe a son or a boy, so we can rule that out.

Entimos means “honored,” so this was no ordinary slave, so we can rule that out.

That leaves only the “male lover” interpretation for the word pais used in Matthew.

Further, in Matthew, when speaking of his ordinary slaves, the centurion uses the word duolos, but when speaking of the sick person he uses pais, again leaving the only definition that fits, that is, the “master’s male lover”.

Jesus did not use the example of the centurion and his sick lover as an example of God’s judgment on their relationship, rather he healed the man’s lover and then held the centurion up as an example of a man of great faith, the type of faith we should all aspire to.

In writing this series, I realized that there would be some who would argue that I am merely misinterpreting the passages to fit my agenda and I admit that it is impossible for me or anyone else to know precisely the intent of each word in a 2000 year old manuscript that has gone through multiple translations. But as I combine biblical interpretation with history and science I see no other way to interpret it.

>The Bible and Homsexuality, Part Three

April 1, 2010

>

This is part three of my series, which would have appeared in the Western Tribune, but…

You can read part two (Romans) here and part one (Leviticus) here.

Most of this information, in a little greater detail comes from my previous post, which includes an explanation of the phrase “until David exceeded.” It doesn’t hurt for people to read it again.

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This is part three in my series on homosexuality and the Bible. I was also asked to show where homosexual relationships are mentioned in an affirming way.

In both the Old Testament and the New Testament there are passages where same sex relationships are affirmed. In the Old Testament, the story of Jonathan and David is such an example.

“When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul… Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.” 1Samuel 18:1-4.

This was pretty much love at first sight. Brotherly love does not lead a man to get naked and offer his most personal possessions, the symbols of his manhood, to another man, but that is what Jonathan did here.

Jonathan’s father, King Saul, was not happy about the relationship. In 1Samuel 20:30 we read that Saul was furious that his son had chosen David as his lover. Saul told Jonathan that he could not produce an heir to the throne and could not claim the kingship.

“…they kissed each other and wept with one another; until David exceeded. Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying “The Lord shall be between me and you, and my descendants and your descendants, forever.”‘ He got up and left; and Jonathan went into the city.” 1 Samuel 20: 41-42.

Again, clearly the association between Jonathan and David goes beyond what is expected from heterosexual males. They knew they would not see one another again, and this is the parting of doomed lovers, so to speak. Yet they made a bond that would last through all generations.

After Jonathan’s death, David wrote a song while mourning, in which he says:

“I am distressed for you my brother Jonathan;Greatly beloved were you to me;your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” 2 Samuel: 1: 26

I have not known a heterosexual man to proclaim that his love for another man was greater than his love for a woman.

This is an example, in the Bible, of two men in a loving, sexual relationship, and the Bible celebrates that love in David’s song.

Next: Jesus and the centurion

>The Bible and Homosexuality, Part 2

March 25, 2010

>Part 2 of this series would have been a column in the Western Tribune had it not folded. The series is four parts long.

Here is Part 1 (Leviticus) in case you missed it. After all of the parts are published here, I will edit them into a single article with a link under “Popular Posts.”

The Letters of St. Paul (Romans)

Part 2, The Bible and Homosexuality : Romans

This is my second in the series on homosexuality and the Bible.

Another group of verses often used against homosexuals, these from the New Testament, are found in the first chapter of Romans.

“Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.” Rom 1:26-27

When these words were written, it was not understood that homosexuality was the natural orientation of some members of the human species as well as almost every other animal species known. Science has shown us that homosexuality occurs in most mammals, and some birds and fish as well. It occurs in nature, naturally.

So it could be said that the men referred to in this verse were heterosexual men, who were having sex with other men, unnaturally. It says nothing about “naturally” homosexual men. The same can be said for the women; some are naturally heterosexual and some are naturally homosexual. The natural sexual activity for a homosexual man would be with another homosexual man, and for a homosexual woman, with another homosexual woman.

But why would a naturally heterosexual man be having sex with another man?


The Apostle Paul by Rublev

Paul is attempting to show the Gentiles how they have turned from God to idols. Later he shows how Jews have turned to self-righteousness and hypocrisy and harsh judgments on others. What he is trying to show is that all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God rather than trying to set apart a particular category of people as the worst possible type of sinners.

During the time of Paul homosexual activity was usually associated with adultery when a married man might have a young male lover on the side. Male prostitution was common. An adult male could choose a legitimate sex partner of either sex. The sexual activity between them accentuated their differences in social class and certainly could be viewed as a misuse of sex and power.

This is quite different than the love between two men or two women of equal social status, and this is not addressed in Paul’s letter to the Romans.

Next: The love between Jonathan and David

>The Bible and Homosexuality, Part 1

March 17, 2010

>This Western Tribune column (March 17, 2010) is the first of a four part series on the Bible and homosexuality. One way to look at this, the Washington Post featured a five part series on homosexuality in 1965 (from which I got the idea for my book,which should be available in April) and the Western Tribune is featuring a four part series in 2010. Sure to raise some eyebrows, but you know what happens when eyebrows are raised? Eyes open!

The Torah inside the former Glockengasse synagogue in Cologne.

How the Bible looks at homosexuality

I have been asked to show the verses in the Bible that mention same sex activity that are not critical of homosexuality. This column is the first of four that will address this issue.

The trouble with taking the words of the Bible without careful study of the language and customs of the time is that often this leads to the wrong conclusion. We only have to look at how the Bible was used in the past against blacks or against women to realize this. Currently, the same approach to biblical interpretation is used to point judgmental fingers at the gay community.

If we incorporate science and history into biblical interpretation we don’t find such condemnation.

Verses in Leviticus that are part of Israel’s Holiness Code include certain specific instructions on sexual matters, but also contain instruction not to eat shellfish, not to wear blended fabrics, not to plant fields with two kinds of seeds and more.

Along with certain male homosexual acts, adultery and sexual intercourse with a woman during her menstrual period are forbidden.

These proscriptions were given for several reasons: to separate Israel from other nations and their practices; to avoid idolatry and the practices associated with it; and to avoid ceremonial uncleanness.

Ritual purity was one of the ways the people of Israel set themselves apart from others for God. The avoidance of things unclean was part of the purification process.

Semen was looked on as critical to the ongoing of human life and thus was an important part of ceremonial law. The emission of semen during intercourse with a menstruating woman or even during an involuntary nocturnal emission was forbidden.

There were pagan rituals in which semen was offered up to the gods, so in order to set Israel apart a code was developed for this people at this time in their history and any use of semen that violated this code was forbidden. If this code is to be enforced against the homosexual community today, should we not also be enforcing the code against eating shellfish, wearing wool blends or having intercourse during a woman’s menstrual period?

These verses do not speak out against loving and committed relationships between modern gay or lesbian persons. They are about violations of a code that was set for a particular group of people and that, by the way, was replaced by the life and teachings of Jesus.

Next: Romans

>Jonathan and David: A Love Story

May 7, 2009

>It’s just weird when you look out your front door early in the morning and a police car is parked there sideways in the road with lights “a flashing.”

This was on the morning of the recent fire, however, and the car was blocking the street.

I promised in a comment a few days ago that I would provide an example of where homosexuality is treated in a positive way in the Bible. One such instance is the story of the love between David and Jonathan.

“When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.” 1Samuel 18:1-4.

This was pretty much love at first sight. Brotherly love does not lead a man to get naked and offer his most personal possessions, the symbols of his manhood, to another man, but that is what Jonathan did here.

Jonathan’s father, King Saul, was not happy about the relationship:

“You son of a perverse, rebellious woman! Do I not know that you have chosen David, the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of your mother’s nakedness? For as long as the son of Jesse lives upon the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established.”
1 Samuel 20:30

In other words, Saul is furious that his son has chosen David as his lover, he says it is shameful, something many gay men have heard when they reveal themselves to their fathers. Saul tells Jonathan that he cannot produce an heir to the throne (while in a same sex relationship) so he can not claim the kingship.

“…they kissed each other and wept with one another; until David exceeded. Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, since both of us have sworn in the name of the Lord, saying “The Lord shall be between me and you, and my descendants and your descendants, forever”‘ He got up and left; and Jonathan went into the city.” 1 Samuel 20: 41-42.

Again, clearly the association between Jonathan and David goes beyond what is expected from heterosexual males. They knew they would not see one another again, and this is the parting of doomed lovers, so to speak. Yet they made a bond that would last through all generations.

The Hebrew word used here, gadal, translated above as “exceeded,” can have various meanings. It means to grow, to become great. Some scholars when translating this passage have completely changed the meaning, saying David “recovered himself, ” or “got control of himself” or even deleted the ending completely, being uncomfortable with the obvious meaning, that David became erected.

After Jonathan’s death, David wrote a song while mourning, in which he says:

“I am distressed for you my brother Jonathan;
Greatly beloved were you to me;
your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” 2 Samuel: 1: 26

I have not known a heterosexual man to proclaim that his love for another man was greater than his love for a woman.

This is an example, in the Bible, of two men in a loving, sexual relationship, and the Bible celebrates that love in this song.

Picture Credit: Wikimedia commons. Gottfried Bernhard Goez: Jonathan Greeting David after David Killed Goliath

>Sodom – What Happened?

April 7, 2009

>A few weeks ago a reader posted a comment asking if I had watched Perry Stone on TBN. “Entire 30 minute episode with historical evidence about Sodom and the homosexual sin (out in the streets) that brought it down,” he wrote.

Well I don’t often watch TBN and have never watched Perry Stone, but of course you can find him online. The episode referred to is #441 – The Zoar Factor.

True to the form of Christians that pick and choose verses and mis-interpret them to demonize gays, Mr. Stone does the same thing with Hebrew Scripture, taking a passage from the book of Jasher and after misinterpreting the verse, forgetting all of the words around it. He focused on one verse.

Here is what Jasher 19:3 says: And by desire of their four judges the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had beds erected in the streets of the cities, and if a man came to these places they laid hold of him and brought him to one of their beds, and by force made him to lie in them.

Those are the words displayed on the screen, but Mr. Stone mis-quotes the end, saying “and by force made him to lie with them.”

There is a big difference between “in” and “with”.

So I wondered what the verses that followed said.

Jasher 19:4-7:
4
And as he lay down, three men would stand at his head and three at his feet, and measure him by the length of the bed, and if the man was less than the bed these six men would stretch him at each end, and when he cried out to them they would not answer him.

5

And if he was longer than the bed they would draw together the two sides of the bed at each end, until the man had reached the gates of death.

6

And if he continued to cry out to them, they would answer him, saying, Thus shall it be done to a man that cometh into our land.

7

And when men heard all these things that the people of the cities of Sodom did, they refrained from coming there.

There is not a word in there that would lead one to believe they are talking about forced sex between men, but that is what Stone implies. In fact, that is what he bases his entire show on.

You can read Jasher 19 here and you will learn that the people of Sodom went on to starve and torture visitors. It seems this is the abomination that may have been looked upon by God with disfavor.

In fact, read on. Just after covering a woman with honey and then placing her before a swarm of bees that were stinging her all over, and as she was being ignored by the people:

44

And the Lord was provoked at this and at all the works of the cities of Sodom, for they had abundance of food, and had tranquility amongst them, and still would not sustain the poor and the needy, and in those days their evil doings and sins became great before the Lord.

45

And the Lord sent for two of the angels that had come to Abraham’s house, to destroy Sodom and its cities.

In fact, nowhere are relations between same sex partners mentioned.

As for Stone, he has no credibility. He goes on to say that the same abominations are taking place in the United States. Well, yeah, we are not “sustaining the poor and the needy.” But it has nothing to do with homosexuality!!!

Stone goes on to compare judges in Biblical times permitting torture of visitors to judges in the United States making rulings (about gay rights is implied). Apples and oranges?

He blames the hurricane in New Orleans and the mildew that resulted on a curse from the Lord (he says “mildew” is biblical), and the city of Galveston’s storm damage last year on the Bible’s admonition that it rains upon the just and unjust, and says just as Lot (who was a just man) had to relocate, so the “just” citizens of hurricane damaged areas have to relocate.

Give me a break!

When Jesus Met a Gay Man

June 13, 2008

I put this on my myspace page a few years ago and probably would not have thought to post it here but then Darryl came along. Darryl has been posting comments on a previous post ( Vote Today… ) about my views on religion and sexuality and he wrote, “There is nothing in the Bible that supports the gay lifestyle. Not a single verse…”

Now Darryl, unlike some of the people placing comments in the past, is cordial, seems intelligent, and is able to carry on a conversation in writing without resorting to screaming and name calling. However, he is wrong. And what he wrote sounded like a challenge.

I could have paraphrased this, but the authors do such a good job and I didn’t want to mess up their logical progression of their case.

When Jesus met a Gay Man

An excerpt from The Children Are Free by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley. Emphasis is mine.

From our days in Sunday School, many of us are familiar with the Gospel story where Jesus healed the servant of a Roman centurion. The story is recorded in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10. In Matthew, we are told that the centurion came to Jesus to plead for the healing of his servant. Jesus said he was willing to come to the centurion’s house, but the centurion said there was no need for Jesus to do so. He believed that if Jesus simply spoke the word, his servant would be healed. Marveling at the man’s faith, Jesus pronounced the servant healed. Luke tells a similar story.

Just another miracle story, right? Not on your life!

In the original language, the importance of this story for gay, lesbian and bisexual Christians is much clearer. The Greek word used in Matthews account to refer to the servant of the centurion is pais. In the language of the time, pais had three possible meanings depending upon the context in which it was used. It could mean son or boy; it could mean servant, or it could mean a particular type of servant one who was his masters male lover. (footnote18) Often these lovers were younger than their masters, even teenagers.

To our modern minds, the idea of buying a teen lover seems repugnant. But we have to place this in the context of ancient cultural norms. In ancient times, commercial transactions were the predominant means of forming relationships. Under the law, the wife was viewed as the property of the husband, with a status just above that of a slave. Moreover, in Jesus’ day, a boy or girl was considered of marriageable age upon reaching his or her early teens. It was not uncommon for boys and girls to marry at age 14 or 15. (footnote19) Nor was it uncommon for an older man to marry a young girl. Fortunately civilization has advanced, but these were the norms in the culture of Jesus day.

In that culture, if you were a gay man who wanted a male spouse, you achieved this, like your heterosexual counterparts, through a commercial transaction purchasing someone to serve that purpose. A servant purchased to serve this purpose was often called a pais.

The word boy in English offers a rough comparison. Like pais, the word boy can be used to refer to a male child. But in the slave South in the nineteenth century, boy was also often used to refer to male slaves. The term boy can also be used as a term of endearment. For example, Jeff’s father often refers to his mother as his girl. He doesn’t mean that she is a child, but rather that she is his special one. The term boy can be used in the same way, as in my boy or my beau. In ancient Greek, pais had a similar range of meanings.

Thus, when this term was used, the listener had to consider the context of the statement to determine which meaning was intended. Some modern Christians may be tempted to simply declare by fiat that the Gospels could not possibly have used the term pais in the sense of male lover, end of discussion. But that would be yielding to prejudice. We must let the word of God speak for itself, even if it leads us to an uncomfortable destination.

Is it possible the pais referred to in Matthew 8 and Luke 7 was the roman centurion’s male lover? Lets look at the biblical evidence.

The Bible provides three key pieces of textual and circumstantial evidence. First, in the Luke passage, several additional Greek words are used to describe the one who is sick. Luke says this pais was the centurion’s entimos duolos. The word duolos is a generic term for slave, and was never used in ancient Greek to describe a son/boy. Thus, Luke’s account rules out the possibility the sick person was the centurion’s son; his use of duolos makes clear this was a slave. However, Luke also takes care for indicate this was no ordinary slave. The word entimos means honored. This was an honored slave (entimos duolos) who was his master’s pais. Taken together, the three Greek words preclude the possibility the sick person was either the centurion’s son or an ordinary slave, leaving only one viable option: he was his master’s male lover. (footnote20)

A second piece of evidence is found in verse 9 of Mathew’s account. In the course of expressing his faith in Jesus’ power to heal by simply speaking, the centurion says, “When I tell my slave to do something, he does it.” By extension, the centurion concludes that Jesus is also able to issue a remote verbal command that must be carried out. When speaking of his slaves, the centurion uses the word duolos. But when speaking of the one he is asking Jesus to heal, he uses only pais. In other words, when he is quoted in Matthew, the centurion uses pais only when referring to the sick person. He uses a different word, doulos, when speaking of his other slaves, as if to offer a distinction. (In Luke, it is others, not the centurion, who call the sick one an entimos duolos.) Again, the clear implication is that the sick man was no ordinary slave. And when pais was used to describe a servant who was not an ordinary slave, it meant only one thing: a slave who was the master’s male lover.

The third piece of evidence is circumstantial. In the Gospels, we have many examples of people seeking healing for themselves or for family members. But this story is the only example of someone seeking healing for a slave. The actions described are made even more remarkable by the fact that this was a proud Roman centurion (the conqueror/oppressor) who was humbling himself and pleading with a Jewish rabbi (the conquered/oppressed) to heal his slave. The extraordinary lengths to which this man went to seek healing for his slave is much more understandable, from a psychological perspective, if the slave was his beloved companion.

Thus, all the textual and circumstantial evidence in the Gospels points in one direction. For objective observers, the conclusion is inescapable: in this story Jesus healed a man’s male lover. When understood this way, the story takes on a whole new dimension.

Imagine how it may have happened. While stationed in Palestine, the centurion’s pais becomes ill experiencing some type of life threatening paralysis. The centurion will stop at nothing to save him. Perhaps a friend tells him of rumors of Jesus’ healing powers. Perhaps this friend also tells him Jesus is unusually open to foreigners, teaching his followers that they should love their enemies, even Roman soldiers. So the centurion decides to take a chance. Jesus was his only hope.

As he made his way to Jesus, he probably worried about the possibility that Jesus, like other Jewish rabbis, would take a dim view of his homosexual relationship. Perhaps he even considered lying. He could simply use the word duolos. That would have been accurate, as far as it went. But the centurion probably figured if Jesus was powerful enough to heal his lover, he was also powerful enough to see through any half-truths.

So the centurion approaches Jesus and bows before him. “Rabbi”, my the word gets caught in his throat. This is it the moment of truth. Either Jesus will turn away in disgust, or something wonderful will happen. So, the centurion clears his throat and speaks again. “Rabbi, my pais, yes, my pais, lies at home sick unto death.” Then he pauses and waits for a second that must have seemed like an eternity. The crowd of good, God fearing people surrounding Jesus probably became tense. This was like a gay man asking a televangelist to heal his lover. What would Jesus do?

Without hesitation, Jesus says, “Then I will come and heal him.”

Its that simple! Jesus didn’t say, “Are you kidding? I’m not going to heal your pais so you can go on living in sin!” Nor did he say, “Well, it shouldn’t surprise you that your pais is sick; this is God’s judgment on your relationship”.

Instead, Jesus’ words are simple, clear and liberating for all who have worried about what God thinks of gay relationships. “I will come and heal him.”

At this point, the centurion says there is no need for Jesus to travel to his home. He has faith that Jesus’ word is sufficient. Jesus then turns to the good people standing around him those who were already dumbfounded that he was willing to heal this man’s male lover. To them, Jesus says in verse 10 of Matthews account, “I have not found faith this great anywhere in Israel.” In other words, Jesus holds up this gay centurion as an example of the type of faith others should aspire to.

Jesus didn’t just tolerate this gay centurion. He said he was an example of faith someone we all should strive to be like.

Then, just so the good, God-fearing people wouldn’t miss the point, Jesus speaks again in verse 11: “I tell you, many will come from the east and the west (i.e., beyond the borders of Israel) to find a seat in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs (i.e., those considered likely to inherit heaven) will be thrown into outer darkness.” By this statement Jesus affirmed that many others like this gay centurion, those who come from beyond the assumed boundaries of God’s grace are going to be admitted to the kingdom of heaven. And he also warned that many who think themselves the most likely to be admitted will be left out.

With this story, we rest our case. Who could ask for more? In this story, Jesus restores a gay relationship by a miracle of healing and then holds up a gay man as an example of faith for all to follow. What more do our fundamentalist friends want? Who is Lord? Jesus or cultural prejudice?

Footnotes:

18. K. J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1978), page 16; Bernard Sergent, Homosexuality in Greek Myth (Beacon Press, Boston, 1986), page 10.

19. Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, Macon, 1994), page 554.

20. For an excellent and thorough discussion of the terms pais and entimos duolos in these two gospel accounts, see Donald Mader’s article The Entimos Pais of Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10, (Source: Homosexuality and Religion and Philosophy, Harland Publishing, Inc, New York, 1998).

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If you have made it this far, you may want to read more. The book is The Children are Free, by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley, published by Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, Indianapolis, Indiana. Jesus MCC. Or just ask. I will loan you the book.

>When Jesus Met a Gay Man

June 13, 2008

>I put this on my myspace page a few years ago and probably would not have thought to post it here but then Darryl came along. Darryl has been posting comments on a previous post ( Vote Today… ) about my views on religion and sexuality and he wrote, “There is nothing in the Bible that supports the gay lifestyle. Not a single verse…”

Now Darryl, unlike some of the people placing comments in the past, is cordial, seems intelligent, and is able to carry on a conversation in writing without resorting to screaming and name calling. However, he is wrong. And what he wrote sounded like a challenge.

I could have paraphrased this, but the authors do such a good job and I didn’t want to mess up their logical progression of their case.

When Jesus met a Gay Man

An excerpt from The Children Are Free by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley. Emphasis is mine.

From our days in Sunday School, many of us are familiar with the Gospel story where Jesus healed the servant of a Roman centurion. The story is recorded in Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10. In Matthew, we are told that the centurion came to Jesus to plead for the healing of his servant. Jesus said he was willing to come to the centurion’s house, but the centurion said there was no need for Jesus to do so. He believed that if Jesus simply spoke the word, his servant would be healed. Marveling at the man’s faith, Jesus pronounced the servant healed. Luke tells a similar story.

Just another miracle story, right? Not on your life!

In the original language, the importance of this story for gay, lesbian and bisexual Christians is much clearer. The Greek word used in Matthews account to refer to the servant of the centurion is pais. In the language of the time, pais had three possible meanings depending upon the context in which it was used. It could mean son or boy; it could mean servant, or it could mean a particular type of servant one who was his masters male lover. (footnote18) Often these lovers were younger than their masters, even teenagers.

To our modern minds, the idea of buying a teen lover seems repugnant. But we have to place this in the context of ancient cultural norms. In ancient times, commercial transactions were the predominant means of forming relationships. Under the law, the wife was viewed as the property of the husband, with a status just above that of a slave. Moreover, in Jesus’ day, a boy or girl was considered of marriageable age upon reaching his or her early teens. It was not uncommon for boys and girls to marry at age 14 or 15. (footnote19) Nor was it uncommon for an older man to marry a young girl. Fortunately civilization has advanced, but these were the norms in the culture of Jesus day.

In that culture, if you were a gay man who wanted a male spouse, you achieved this, like your heterosexual counterparts, through a commercial transaction purchasing someone to serve that purpose. A servant purchased to serve this purpose was often called a pais.

The word boy in English offers a rough comparison. Like pais, the word boy can be used to refer to a male child. But in the slave South in the nineteenth century, boy was also often used to refer to male slaves. The term boy can also be used as a term of endearment. For example, Jeff’s father often refers to his mother as his girl. He doesn’t mean that she is a child, but rather that she is his special one. The term boy can be used in the same way, as in my boy or my beau. In ancient Greek, pais had a similar range of meanings.

Thus, when this term was used, the listener had to consider the context of the statement to determine which meaning was intended. Some modern Christians may be tempted to simply declare by fiat that the Gospels could not possibly have used the term pais in the sense of male lover, end of discussion. But that would be yielding to prejudice. We must let the word of God speak for itself, even if it leads us to an uncomfortable destination.

Is it possible the pais referred to in Matthew 8 and Luke 7 was the roman centurion’s male lover? Lets look at the biblical evidence.

The Bible provides three key pieces of textual and circumstantial evidence. First, in the Luke passage, several additional Greek words are used to describe the one who is sick. Luke says this pais was the centurion’s entimos duolos. The word duolos is a generic term for slave, and was never used in ancient Greek to describe a son/boy. Thus, Luke’s account rules out the possibility the sick person was the centurion’s son; his use of duolos makes clear this was a slave. However, Luke also takes care for indicate this was no ordinary slave. The word entimos means honored. This was an honored slave (entimos duolos) who was his master’s pais. Taken together, the three Greek words preclude the possibility the sick person was either the centurion’s son or an ordinary slave, leaving only one viable option: he was his master’s male lover. (footnote20)

A second piece of evidence is found in verse 9 of Mathew’s account. In the course of expressing his faith in Jesus’ power to heal by simply speaking, the centurion says, “When I tell my slave to do something, he does it.” By extension, the centurion concludes that Jesus is also able to issue a remote verbal command that must be carried out. When speaking of his slaves, the centurion uses the word duolos. But when speaking of the one he is asking Jesus to heal, he uses only pais. In other words, when he is quoted in Matthew, the centurion uses pais only when referring to the sick person. He uses a different word, doulos, when speaking of his other slaves, as if to offer a distinction. (In Luke, it is others, not the centurion, who call the sick one an entimos duolos.) Again, the clear implication is that the sick man was no ordinary slave. And when pais was used to describe a servant who was not an ordinary slave, it meant only one thing: a slave who was the master’s male lover.

The third piece of evidence is circumstantial. In the Gospels, we have many examples of people seeking healing for themselves or for family members. But this story is the only example of someone seeking healing for a slave. The actions described are made even more remarkable by the fact that this was a proud Roman centurion (the conqueror/oppressor) who was humbling himself and pleading with a Jewish rabbi (the conquered/oppressed) to heal his slave. The extraordinary lengths to which this man went to seek healing for his slave is much more understandable, from a psychological perspective, if the slave was his beloved companion.

Thus, all the textual and circumstantial evidence in the Gospels points in one direction. For objective observers, the conclusion is inescapable: in this story Jesus healed a man’s male lover. When understood this way, the story takes on a whole new dimension.

Imagine how it may have happened. While stationed in Palestine, the centurion’s pais becomes ill experiencing some type of life threatening paralysis. The centurion will stop at nothing to save him. Perhaps a friend tells him of rumors of Jesus’ healing powers. Perhaps this friend also tells him Jesus is unusually open to foreigners, teaching his followers that they should love their enemies, even Roman soldiers. So the centurion decides to take a chance. Jesus was his only hope.

As he made his way to Jesus, he probably worried about the possibility that Jesus, like other Jewish rabbis, would take a dim view of his homosexual relationship. Perhaps he even considered lying. He could simply use the word duolos. That would have been accurate, as far as it went. But the centurion probably figured if Jesus was powerful enough to heal his lover, he was also powerful enough to see through any half-truths.

So the centurion approaches Jesus and bows before him. “Rabbi”, my the word gets caught in his throat. This is it the moment of truth. Either Jesus will turn away in disgust, or something wonderful will happen. So, the centurion clears his throat and speaks again. “Rabbi, my pais, yes, my pais, lies at home sick unto death.” Then he pauses and waits for a second that must have seemed like an eternity. The crowd of good, God fearing people surrounding Jesus probably became tense. This was like a gay man asking a televangelist to heal his lover. What would Jesus do?

Without hesitation, Jesus says, “Then I will come and heal him.”

Its that simple! Jesus didn’t say, “Are you kidding? I’m not going to heal your pais so you can go on living in sin!” Nor did he say, “Well, it shouldn’t surprise you that your pais is sick; this is God’s judgment on your relationship”.

Instead, Jesus’ words are simple, clear and liberating for all who have worried about what God thinks of gay relationships. “I will come and heal him.”

At this point, the centurion says there is no need for Jesus to travel to his home. He has faith that Jesus’ word is sufficient. Jesus then turns to the good people standing around him those who were already dumbfounded that he was willing to heal this man’s male lover. To them, Jesus says in verse 10 of Matthews account, “I have not found faith this great anywhere in Israel.” In other words, Jesus holds up this gay centurion as an example of the type of faith others should aspire to.

Jesus didn’t just tolerate this gay centurion. He said he was an example of faith someone we all should strive to be like.

Then, just so the good, God-fearing people wouldn’t miss the point, Jesus speaks again in verse 11: “I tell you, many will come from the east and the west (i.e., beyond the borders of Israel) to find a seat in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs (i.e., those considered likely to inherit heaven) will be thrown into outer darkness.” By this statement Jesus affirmed that many others like this gay centurion, those who come from beyond the assumed boundaries of God’s grace are going to be admitted to the kingdom of heaven. And he also warned that many who think themselves the most likely to be admitted will be left out.

With this story, we rest our case. Who could ask for more? In this story, Jesus restores a gay relationship by a miracle of healing and then holds up a gay man as an example of faith for all to follow. What more do our fundamentalist friends want? Who is Lord? Jesus or cultural prejudice?

Footnotes:

18. K. J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1978), page 16; Bernard Sergent, Homosexuality in Greek Myth (Beacon Press, Boston, 1986), page 10.

19. Mercer Dictionary of the Bible (Mercer University Press, Macon, 1994), page 554.

20. For an excellent and thorough discussion of the terms pais and entimos duolos in these two gospel accounts, see Donald Mader’s article The Entimos Pais of Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10, (Source: Homosexuality and Religion and Philosophy, Harland Publishing, Inc, New York, 1998).

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If you have made it this far, you may want to read more. The book is The Children are Free, by Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley, published by Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, Indianapolis, Indiana. Jesus MCC. Or just ask. I will loan you the book.

Homosexuality and the Bible, and More Lipscomb Troubles

July 3, 2007

In Lipscomb another city official is in trouble. This time it’s the fire chief, but the Jefferson County Sherrif’s Deputy who was quoted in the Birmingham News said he did not know what the warrant was for. Seems like that would be easy enough for the guy to find out, if he was being interviewed, but that is not the story. The story is a city with a complete lack of leadership, in every major department. The mayor, the “police commissioner,” the fire chief. I hear that the sheriff’s department has been itching to get in there and clean things up.

Driving through Lipscomb on Avenue K you see a couple of new signs erected. I don’t often give free pubicity to attorneys, but here is the sign. You can read about the blasting and damage in the first few issues of the Western Tribune in May.


How about a sign that says:

Incompetence Damage

If you are damaged from lack of leadership in this area, please call…

Homosexuality and the Bible

Well here goes. I already know that certain individuals will say I am “spinning” the Bible verses to suit me, but no, what I have done is research. Some of you have heard this before, so sorry for the repeat.

I will start with the story of Sodom. The sin of Sodom was not homosexuality; it was their behavior and callous indifference toward the weak and vulnerable. Read Ezekiel 16: 49-50 (Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.), and all the other verses in the Bible that discuss Sodom and you will see that not one of them mentions homosexuality. In Ezekiel the abominable things are listed, and they are pride, attitude and refusal to help the needy. Sure, irresponsible sex is one of the elements of the story, but I hardly think God would have approved what the men of Sodom were doing if the angels had been female, so it is not just a homosexual thing. This story does not condemn homosexuality as an orientation, nor does it condemn or even speak of committed loving same sex relationships.

To follow up on Sodom, read Jude 7 ( Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, 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). Many assume that “going after strange flesh” must mean homosexuality, because it seems unnatural to them. But in that time, according to Genesis 6, “Sons of God” (angels) took the daughters of humans as wives. Most people think this is what sealed Sodom’s fate. Jude was talking about “heterosexual sex” between human women and male angels (pretending to be humans), or strange flesh, not sex between two men.

Everyone has heard the verses in Leviticus that are used to condemn homosexuals, but let me put them in context. Leviticus 18:22 (Thou shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination) and 20:13 (If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them) should be understood after considering what was going on at the time. Three different times we are told that these and other rules in those chapters are meant to prevent the Israelites from doing what the Egyptians and Canaanites did, in this case, homosexual temple prostitution. Many sexual practices, along with other things, are mentioned in these chapters, and these are practices that were going on in the other cultures as parts of fertility rituals and a desire for immortality (semen was thought to be the essence of life, and depositing semen into the body of one of the priests was believed to gain the favor of the goddess of love and fertility, Ishtar or Astarte, to guarantee immortality.) This is not a condemnation of homosexuality in general, or of loving same sex relationships, this is a condemnation of practicing temple prostitution to seek the favor of a false god.

Even more commonly used as a condemnation of homosexuality are Paul’s writings in Romans 1:21-28 (because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up into 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 toward one another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not covenant.). Briefly, Paul is addressing people who refuse to acknowledge and glorify God (v. 21), who began worshiping idols (v. 23), and were more interested in earthly pursuits than spiritual pursuits (v. 25), and gave up their natural, or innate, passion for the opposite sex in an unbounded search for pleasure (v. 26-27) and lived lives of covetousness, malice, envy, strife, slander, disrespect for parents, pride and hatred of God (v. 29-31). The model of homosexuality that Paul addresses is associated with idol worship or temple prostitution and people who in their search for earthly pleasure broke away from their natural sexual orientation and participated in promiscuous sex with anyone available. He does not address people whose natural orientation is homosexuality, or their willingness to enter into committed relationships.

The last two verses that are often used against gays are 1Corinthians 6:9-10 (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 mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.), and 1 Timothy 1:10 (for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine). The Greek word in 1 Corinthians used to refer to homosexuals is malakoi, and is translated “effeminate” in the King James Version. Some theologians think this word, taken in the context of the time it was written, meant soft, like a woman, or traits like vanity and self indulgence, traits unacceptable to men at the time. Others carry it further, thinking the term refers to male prostitutes. Another Greek word used here and in Timothy is arsenokoitai, a combination of two words meaning “bed” and “male.” In other writings of the time that discuss homosexual sex, or one of the partners in gay sex, this word was never used, and other words were used. Paul would not have needed to resort to this ambiguous compound word, which other writers used to describe instances when one male used his superior power or position to take sexual advantage over another. Newer versions of the Bible seem to suggest that to commit the sin referred to in 1 Corinthians one must use homosexuality in an aggressive or offensive way (NIV – “homosexual offender” and NRSV – “sodomite” and as we have seen, the men of Sodom were the ultimate example of sexual aggression and oppression.).

These verses have been mistranslated, misinterpreted, misapplied, and mistakenly singled out as proof that God does not approve of loving and committed same sex relationships, where in fact, none of those verses address the subject, rather they address particular sexual acts committed by certain people who have turned away from God, or who are seeking favor from other gods.

Want to hear more?