Question #2

Do you think it is within God's will or outside of God's will for persons to be engaged in homosexual activity?

The first mention of homosexual relations in the Bible occurs in Genesis when the men of Sodom seek to rape what they perceive to be two men who are in Lot’s household.

Yet later in the Bible we are told that Sodom’s great sin was inhospitality, not homosexuality.  Indeed, Ezekiel 16:46-50 tells us it was a combination of pride, arrogance, excessive wealth, and a refusal to take care of the poor and needy that doomed them.

Desiring to gang rape angels is just an example of that pride and arrogance in action.

In Leviticus, Moses lays down a lot of harsh laws.  Now, the Torah tells us Moses was “the mildest of men” but that was only in comparison to the crowd he was leading:  A bunch of pagan, polytheistic, ignorant, dispirited slaves who were constantly bitching about their fate and wishing they were back in Egypt.

They had been oppressed, they had cried out for relief, but wandering 40 years in the desert was not what they wanted!

Moses had to take this amorphous pack of misbegotten slackers and whip them into shape so they could conquer the Promised Land in 40 years.

Leviticus is his Marine Corps Field Manual.

Leviticus is a book of rules designed to hammer an identity into a mob that longed for Egypt, backbones into slaves, and a killer instinct into cowards.

He did this the same way the Marine Corps does it: Through the most brutal training and discipline he could devise.

And, yes, I say he meaning Moses.  After God inscribed the Decalogue, He did not communicate directly with humanity again until the birth of Christ.  Instead He inspired Moses, and Moses took that inspiration, mixed it with his own imagination, and ran with it.

Look how many chapters he goes on and on and on about the Tabernacle.

Compare that to the scant verses in the Decalogue.

It’s pretty clear all God wanted from Moses was for the Israelites to have a set, respectful manner of worship:  All the petty details about the number of brass rings on the curtains, etc., came from Moses.

Likewise all the cruel, cold, draconian laws.[1]

After Leviticus, the next time we see mention of homosexual activity is in the book of Judges, when an unnamed judge suffers a virtual repeat of the Sodom story, this time with the difference that the mob takes and rapes his concubine (who, considering how disdainfully he regards her life and dignity, was absolutely correct to have fled from him in the first place).

And again, the sin here is not the homosexual part of the intended rape but the rape part; given a chance to abuse a female they did so.  Rape is a crime of power and frequently violence; even in statutory rape cases it is usually an older person exerting undue influence on a younger, or committing some sort of trickery or fraud to obtain what could not be obtained honestly.

Jump ahead to 2 Samuel 1:26, when David morns for Jonathan, whom he calls his brother, saying “thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women”.

Odd choice of words, especially from David, who was usually very vivid and precise with his imagery.   Of course this one verse does not in and of itself confirm that David and Jonathan had physical homosexual relations, but it sure states they were closer and emotionally more intimate than most husbands and wives of that era.

And since David was a man after God’s own heart, I think it’s pretty clear God has no problem with intense love between two individuals, regardless of gender, that does not involve the betrayal of third parties.

Homosexual acts are mentioned again in the various prophets, and always in the context of adopting pagan idol worship.  The various Astarte, Molech, Ba’al and other cults that the Israelites fell into had a variety of rituals the hard line monotheists found abhorrent, including child sacrifice, orgiastic rituals, and temple prostitution.[2]

In the latter prophets, God repeatedly says through them that it's not sacrifice or ritual that makes Him happy, it's looking after widows and orphans, loving your neighbor, not cheating one another, not harming one another.

No mention of either male or female, straight or gay sexual activity.[3]

So, regarding the Old Testament, homosexuality is proscribed by Moses for the Israelites living under God’s covenant; it is not necessarily proscribed for non-Israelites the way murder, theft, adultery, etc., are universally.[4]

Move ahead to the New Testament.  Christ said none of the old Law would pass away until all had been fulfilled (although he was speaking to a Jewish audience when he did so; he may not have been implying their Torah applied to all humanity), which he then proceeded to do with his death on the cross (“It is finished” referred to the old covenant, as well as his own physical life and his sacrifice for all humanity).

The old Law of Moses is now done away with.  God himself proclaimed nothing He has made is unclean.  There is no distinction in God’s eyes (not that there ever was) between male and female, free and slave, Jew and Gentile.  All human beings are equal in God’s sight.

The Decalogue?  There’s no need for them if we are living in love of one another.  A loving person will not harm another, steal, betray, curse, covet, etc.  All of the Decalogue is summed up by “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as you love yourself.” And the easiest way to love one another is to treat others the way we wish to be treated, showing the same compassion and kindness we would like to receive.

Christ made no direct teaching on homosexuality.  I think it’s safe to say Christ was asexual, as we understand the term.  He taught that it was best if one could dedicate one’s entire heart and soul towards worshiping God, but that if one did need intimate human companionship, it was better to find someone and marry them than to either burn with desire or spend a life chasing after pleasure.[5]

We know the culture of the time saw nothing amiss in persons of the same gender embracing, kissing on the cheek, or even sharing a bed for non-sexual purposes.

When Christ was presented with incidents of sexual sin (the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery), he was kind, compassionate, gracious, and forgiving.  He gave freely to the woman at the well even though she was a social pariah in her town and used her to bring the Word to the rest of the community.[6]

I can’t think of any of Christ’s parables that have to do with sexual sin specifically (I’m sure a few could be interpreted that way, viz. the prodigal son, but we’re spared details).  The two or three parables where  a wedding was used as a setting had nothing to do with the marriage itself but everything with the guests’ behavior.

Christ did teach about adultery and lust but in a far different context than what his audience expected.  He said to divorce a spouse without cause (and the only cause he allowed was the spouse committing adultery; i.e., an act of betrayal) was to commit adultery if one remarried; further, if the divorced spouse then remarried, the instigating party was responsible for that spouse’s adultery!

With lust, he said that to even look at a woman with desire was the same as actually bedding her.[7]

Paul wrote a couple of times in apparent reference to homosexual behavior, both times, IIRC, in a long list of other sins including drunkenness, gossiping, cheating people, fortune telling, etc.  He finishes up these lists both times by reminding the reader that if they dare condemn anyone for committing one of these sins, they are condemning themselves because they are guilty of one of the others.

Further, he did not use the common Greek word to refer to homosexual behavior among men but a word he seems to have originated.  One reference seems to be directed towards those who engage in male prostitution as either customers or workers; there’s a similar reference to regular prostitution, IIRC.  Another time he uses a Greek word to refer to “soft” men that has been translated into English as “effeminate” men; it’s my understanding that is a nuance not found in the original, which might better be translated as “weak and passive”.

And that seems to be it for the New Testament.

So, in total:

Nothing in the Old Testament applies to modern Christians, especially Moses’ Levitical laws.

When sexual sin did occur in the Old Testament, God seemed a lot less concerned with the sexual activity than He was with the attendant violence, abuse of power, betrayal, and turning from righteousness.

With the New Covenant in the New Testament, we are to love God, and love one another as we love ourselves.  Nothing God made is unclean.  Nothing is unlawful, though not all things are profitable.  If God has a use for something or someone, who are we to question Him?  Not all of His sheep are part of the same flock.

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[1]  And mind you, there are some incredible breakthroughs in there as well:  Moses was a descendant of Levi, who massacred an entire town to avenge his sister’s possible rape / possible seduction even after the rapist / seducer had apologized, offered to atone, and Jacob had agreed to forgive him and accept him as a son-in-law.  From that comes “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” which put limits to the amount of retributive justice that could be administered.  Moses moved the Israelites in particular and humanity in general away from “kill everyone who offends me” to “let the punishment fit the crime”, which considering what happened in Genesis is one heck of an improvement.

[2]  We talk about the people of the Old Testament being monotheists, but the word carries a different, stricter, more exclusive concept now than it did then.  Today monotheists believe in one God and one God only, yet Abraham, Moses, et al, seemed comfortable with the idea of Yahweh being the greatest / foremost / best god and the god exclusively for them, but also seemed to accept the existence of other, lesser gods for other peoples.  Abraham in particular didn’t have much faith in God’s protection since not once but twice he pawned off his own wife as his sister to kings he feared would murder him if he refused to let them marry her.  The common people certainly seemed to have accepted the idea of other gods; look at all the shenanigans with erecting golden calves, building pagan alters, stealing idols, etc.  It isn’t until the latter prophets that the idea of there-is-but-one-true-God-and-idols-are-bogus really sinks in among the priesthood, and much, much later following the return from Babylon for the populace to embrace that thought.  By the time of Christ monotheism as we know it is in place, but it took a while for the Jews to grasp the concept.

[3]  You want to argue spreading AIDS is a sin, I'll give you that; so's promoting cigarettes.

[4]  BTW, where did the concept of "sacrifice" come from?  It appears full blown, without any preamble, as a universally understood concept in the story of Cain and Able, yet nowhere are we told who came up with the idea.  God?  Man?  Satan?  Was sacrifice some human concept that God used, the same way He uses the human concept of "Abba" / "Papa" because it's a symbol we can easily wrap our primitive minds around?  God demanding a sacrifice makes no sense:  Everything is already His, He lets us use some of it, we give some of it back to prove we're thankful / sorry for the bad shit we've done?  That makes no sense and God Himself says it makes no sense.  He already knows our hearts and minds, He tells us there is nothing we can do to earn salvation, that salvation is a gift freely given by Him.  All we have to do if we accept His salvation is to love one another as much as He loves us and we love ourselves -- and we can't even do THAT!

[5]  I think this admonition re hedonism also applies to any pleasure that threatens to become an “idol” in our lives:  Drugs, alcohol, gambling, video games, exercise, whatever.

[6]  And when you think about it, of course he would.  Look at the only women mentioned in his genealogy:  Tamar, who pretended to be a hooker to get pregnant by her father-in-law; Rahab, who really was a hooker; Esther, who was a dirty stinkin’ foreigner who seduced her future husband by putting her hand on his thigh; Bathsheba, an adulteress with a rep so nasty she doesn’t even have to be named; and Mary, who was impregnated by the Holy Spirit.  Christ was never one to throw stones and his family history may be a huge contributing factor in that.

[7]  Now, to be frank, this is a thing I am puzzled over.  Did he mean to look at a specific woman and desire to have sex with her was a sin?  Or did he mean to look at a woman and just have free form sexual urgings was bad?  Is it okay to fantasize about a purely imaginary woman, if one knows one is doing it only to relieve sexual tension and not because one is dissatisfied with one’s spouse?  I don’t know.  Lemme tackle one thing at a time.

 

Question #1

Question #3