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My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality
The author argues that the meaning of the Bible's passages on homosexuality have been lost in translation.
May 15th, 2012
05:39 PM ET

My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality

Editor's note: Daniel A. Helminiak, who was ordained a priest in Rome, is a theologian, psychotherapist and author of “What the Bible Really Says about homosexuality" and books on contemporary spirituality. He is a professor of psychology at the University of West Georgia.

By Daniel A. Helminiak, Special to CNN

President Barack Obama’s support of same-sex marriage, like blood in the water, has conservative sharks circling for a kill. In a nation that touts separation of religion and government, religious-based arguments command this battle. Lurking beneath anti-gay forays, you inevitably find religion and, above all, the Bible.

We now face religious jingoism, the imposition of personal beliefs on the whole pluralistic society. Worse still, these beliefs are irrational, just a fiction of blind conviction. Nowhere does the Bible actually oppose homosexuality.

In the past 60 years, we have learned more about sex, by far, than in preceding millennia. Is it likely that an ancient people, who thought the male was the basic biological model and the world flat, understood homosexuality as we do today? Could they have even addressed the questions about homosexuality that we grapple with today? Of course not.

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Hard evidence supports this commonsensical expectation. Taken on its own terms, read in the original languages, placed back into its historical context, the Bible is ho-hum on homosexuality, unless – as with heterosexuality – injustice and abuse are involved.

That, in fact, was the case among the Sodomites (Genesis 19), whose experience is frequently cited by modern anti-gay critics. The Sodomites wanted to rape the visitors whom Lot, the one just man in the city, welcomed in hospitality for the night.

The Bible itself is lucid on the sin of Sodom: pride, lack of concern for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48-49); hatred of strangers and cruelty to guests (Wisdom 19:13); arrogance (Sirach/Ecclesiaticus 16:8); evildoing, injustice, oppression of the widow and orphan (Isaiah 1:17); adultery (in those days, the use of another man’s property), and lying (Jeremiah 23:12).

But nowhere are same-sex acts named as the sin of Sodom. That intended gang rape only expressed the greater sin, condemned in the Bible from cover to cover: hatred, injustice, cruelty, lack of concern for others. Hence, Jesus says “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19; Mark 12:31); and “By this will they know you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

How inverted these values have become! In the name of Jesus, evangelicals and Catholic bishops make sex the Christian litmus test and are willing to sacrifice the social safety net in return.

The longest biblical passage on male-male sex is Romans 1:26-27: "Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another."

The Greek term para physin has been translated unnatural; it should read atypical or unusual. In the technical sense, yes, the Stoic philosophers did use para physin to mean unnatural, but this term also had a widespread popular meaning. It is this latter meaning that informs Paul's writing. It carries no ethical condemnation.

Compare the passage on male-male sex to Romans 11:24. There, Paul applies the term para physin to God. God grafted the Gentiles into the Jewish people, a wild branch into a cultivated vine. Not your standard practice! An unusual thing to do — atypical, nothing more. The anti-gay "unnatural" hullabaloo rests on a mistranslation.

Besides, Paul used two other words to describe male-male sex: dishonorable (1:24, 26) and unseemly (1:27). But for Paul, neither carried ethical weight. In 2 Corinthians 6:8 and 11:21, Paul says that even he was held in dishonor — for preaching Christ. Clearly, these words merely indicate social disrepute, not truly unethical behavior.

In this passage Paul is referring to the ancient Jewish Law: Leviticus 18:22, the “abomination” of a man’s lying with another man. Paul sees male-male sex as an impurity, a taboo, uncleanness — in other words, “abomination.” Introducing this discussion in 1:24, he says so outright: "God gave them up … to impurity."

But Jesus taught lucidly that Jewish requirements for purity — varied cultural traditions — do not matter before God. What matters is purity of heart.

“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles,” reads Matthew 15. “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

Or again, Jesus taught, “Everyone who looks at a women with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus rejected the purity requirements of the Jewish Law.

In calling it unclean, Paul was not condemning male-male sex. He had terms to express condemnation. Before and after his section on sex, he used truly condemnatory terms: godless, evil, wicked or unjust, not to be done. But he never used ethical terms around that issue of sex.

As for marriage, again, the Bible is more liberal than we hear today. The Jewish patriarchs had many wives and concubines. David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and Daniel and the palace master were probably lovers.

The Bible’s Song of Songs is a paean to romantic love with no mention of children or a married couple. Jesus never mentioned same-sex behaviors, although he did heal the “servant” — pais, a Greek term for male lover — of the Roman Centurion.

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Paul discouraged marriage because he believed the world would soon end. Still, he encouraged people with sexual needs to marry, and he never linked sex and procreation.

Were God-given reason to prevail, rather than knee-jerk religion, we would not be having a heated debate over gay marriage. “Liberty and justice for all,” marvel at the diversity of creation, welcome for one another: these, alas, are true biblical values.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Daniel A. Helminiak.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Gay marriage • My Take • Opinion

soundoff (8,829 Responses)
  1. Cindi

    LIKE YOU, I TAKE THE BIBLE SERIOUSLY! Many good people build their case against homosexuality almost entirely on the Bible. These folks value Scripture, and are serious about seeking its guidance in their lives. Unfortunately, many of them have never really studied what the Bible does and doesn’t say about homosexuality.

    We gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender Christians take the Bible seriously, too. Personally, I’ve spent more than 50 years reading, studying, memorizing, preaching, and teaching from the sacred texts. I earned my master’s and doctoral degrees at a conservative biblical seminary to better equip myself to “rightly divide the word of truth.” I learned Hebrew and Greek to gain a better understanding of the original words of the biblical texts. I studied the lives and times of the biblical authors to help me know what they were saying in their day so I could better apply it to my own.

    We must be open to new truth from Scripture.

    Even heroes of the Christian faith have changed their minds about the meaning of various biblical texts.

    It took a blinding light and a voice from heaven to help the apostle Paul change his mind about certain Hebrew texts. A sheet lowered from the sky filled with all kinds of animals helped the apostle Peter gain new insights into Jewish law.

    Jerry Falwell believed the Bible supported segregation in the church until a black shoeshine man asked him, “When will someone like me be allowed to become a member of your congregation?” Through those simple words, the Holy Spirit spoke new truth about the ancient biblical texts to the Rev. Falwell, and in obedience he ended segregation at Thomas Road Baptist Church.

    Even when we believe the Scriptures are “infallible” or “without error,” it’s terribly dangerous to think that our understanding of every biblical text is also without error. We are human. We are fallible. And we can misunderstand and misinterpret these ancient words — with tragic results.

    What if someone asked you, “Is there a chance you could be wrong about the way you’ve interpreted the biblical texts sometimes used to condemn homosexual orientation?” How would you respond? What does it say about you if you answer, “No, I could NOT be wrong”? I am asking you to re-examine these texts — carefully and prayerfully. Lives hang in the balance.

    If heroes of the Christian faith could change their minds about the meaning of certain biblical texts, shouldn’t we be prepared to reconsider our own interpretations of these ancient words when the Holy Spirit opens our minds and hearts to new truth? That’s why we study the Bible prayerfully, seeking the Spirit of Truth, God’s loving Spirit, to help us understand and apply these words to our lives.

    On the night he was betrayed, Jesus told his disciples he was going away from them for a while, but that the Father would send them a “Comforter,” an “Advocate,” the “Holy Spirit” who would “teach them all things.”

    I believe with all my heart that the Holy Spirit is still teaching us. When we reconsider the texts that are used by some people to condemn God’s gay children, we must fervently seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance, or we risk being misled by our own prejudices.

    The Bible is a book about God — not a book about human sexuality.

    The Bible is the story of God’s love for the world and the people of the world. It tells the history of God’s love at work rescuing, renewing, and empowering humankind. It was never intended to be a book about human sexuality. Certainly, you will agree.

    In fact, the Bible accepts sexual practices that we condemn and condemns sexual practices that we accept. Lots of them! Here are a few examples.

    DEUTERONOMY 22:13-21
    If it is discovered that a bride is not a virgin, the Bible demands that she be executed by stoning immediately.

    DEUTERONOMY 22:22
    If a married person has sex with someone else’s husband or wife, the Bible commands that both adulterers be stoned to death.

    MARK 10:1-12
    Divorce is strictly forbidden in both Testaments, as is remarriage of anyone who has been divorced.

    LEVITICUS 18:19
    The Bible forbids a married couple from having sexual intercourse during a woman’s period. If they disobey, both shall be executed.

    MARK 12:18-27
    If a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir.

    DEUTERONOMY 25:11-12
    If a man gets into a fight with another man and his wife seeks to rescue her husband by grabbing the enemy’s genitals, her hand shall be cut off and no pity shall be shown her.

    I’m certain you don’t agree with these teachings from the Bible about sex. And you shouldn’t. The list goes on: The Bible says clearly that sex with a prostitute is acceptable for the husband but not for the wife. Polygamy (more than one wife) is acceptable, as is a king’s having many concubines. (Solomon, the wisest king of all, had 1,000 concubines.) Slavery and sex with slaves, marriage of girls aged 11-13, and treatment of women as property are all accepted practices in the Scriptures. On the other hand, there are strict prohibitions against interracial marriage, birth control, discussing or even naming a sexual organ, and seeing one’s parents nude.

    Over the centuries the Holy Spirit has taught us that certain Bible verses should not be understood as God’s law for all time periods. Some verses are specific to the culture and time they were written, and are no longer viewed as appropriate, wise, or just.

    Often, the Holy Spirit uses science to teach us why those ancient words no longer apply to our modern times. During the last three decades, for example, organizations representing 1.5 million U.S. health professionals (doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and educators) have stated definitively that homosexual orientation is as natural as heterosexual orientation, that sexual orientation is determined by a combination of yet unknown pre- and post-natal influences, and that it is dangerous and inappropriate to tell a homosexual that he or she could or should attempt to change his or her sexual orientation.

    While there are some people now living in heterosexual marriages who once perceived themselves to be gay, there are millions of gay and lesbian persons who have accepted their sexual orientation as a gift from God and live productive and deeply spiritual lives. The evidence from science and from the personal experience of gay and lesbian Christians demands that we at least consider whether the passages cited to condemn homosexual behavior should be reconsidered, just as other Bible verses that speak of certain sexual practices are no longer understood as God’s law for us in this day.

    July 27, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  2. gigi

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fl4VoH1i19E what the bible said

    July 27, 2012 at 9:25 am |
  3. gigi

    July 27, 2012 at 9:24 am |
  4. Last Call

    Lets go New Testament Romans 1:27-on

    July 26, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Lets go New Testament Romans 1:27-on"

      So you just skipped over 23 huh, that shows they were worshiping a pagan god using sex. LOL! Keep showing the world you have poor reading comprehension skills.

      July 27, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  5. Last Call

    Ever hear of Sodom & Gomor. The city was destoryed. The city has been found and was reported as burned to ground. Bring them out that we may know them is not hard to understand unless you want to look over it. Lot says I have daughters you can have not these men.

    July 26, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Ever hear of Sodom & Gomor."

      Well, Duh! People being forced to have sex against their will is rape, it might help if you look up that definition. It has nothing to do with the loving long term relationship of a gay couple as we know and understand it today. Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      July 27, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  6. Tim Hartsel

    Here is a link to BibleGateway.com that lists the many different bible versions of Leviticus 18;22

    http://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Leviticus%2018:22

    July 26, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • YeahRight

      "Here is a link to BibleGateway.com that lists the many different bible versions of Leviticus 18;22"

      LMAO! It's hysterical that Christians really don't understand the bible. Christians don't follow Leviticus anymore, it's part of the Holiness Code, a ritual manual for Israel's priests.. Duh!

      July 26, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • myweightinwords

      You do understand that Leviticus is not the US law, yes?

      You do understand that many, many Christian biblical scholars have argued over this and not come to agreement?

      No one is forcing anyone to engage in a gay relationship.

      July 26, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  7. Tim Hartsel

    Leviticus 18:22. It seems quite clear what God is saying "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination."

    July 26, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • midwest rail

      That's WONderful ! Now show me where it says that in the const-itution.

      July 26, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • YeahRight

      LOL! You really don't understand your bible do you. Christians don't follow Leviticus anymore, it's part of the Holiness Code, a ritual manual for Israel's priests..

      July 27, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  8. James

    "Out, Proud, and Celib@te – A declaration of hope and deliverance from condemnation."

    The scriptures actually say nothing about homosexuality as a psychosexual orientation. Our understandings of sexual orientation are distinctly modern ones that were not present in the minds of Scripture writers. A few passages of Scripture (seven at the most) object to certain types of same-sex expressions or acts. The particular acts in question, however, are sexual expressions which are exploitative, oppressive, commercialized, or offensive to ancient purity rituals. There is no Scriptural guidance for same-sex relationships which are loving and mutually respecting. Guidelines for these relationships should come from the same general Scriptural norms that apply to heterosexual relationships.

    July 24, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  9. Douglas

    Out, Proud, and Celib@te - A declaration of hope and deliverance from condemnation.
    Best, Douglas

    July 24, 2012 at 2:24 am |
    • YeahRight

      "Out, Proud, and Celib@te – A declaration of hope and deliverance from condemnation."

      There is no condemnation for being gay only prejudice bigots believe that. There are gay churches that are performing wedding ceremonies and there are even gay clergy. Nowhere in your bible does your god condemn the saved loving long term relationship. The experts on this subject have stated, heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      It's time to look in the mirror and your black heart of unfounded prejudice towards the gay community. Get an education.

      July 24, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  10. DAJ

    Sadly, he is a false prophet, with all his reasonings ready to go. God is not a neutral God, so when you say He is fine in this case with fornicating, you have to prove it.

    July 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Who invited me?

      All Prophets are false...what is your point?

      July 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  11. YeahRight

    "This is truly evidence of the reprobate mind that Paul discussed in Romans. When you attempt to filter the Bible through a gay lens, you begin to destroy the morality which places limits on what is right and what is wrong."

    Gays aren't pedophiles. Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

    July 14, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Shamoo

      Moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron moron

      July 16, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Shampoo

      Showing off your debating skills?

      July 16, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • YeahRight

      "Moron "

      Oh, poor baby you can't refute the 480,000 experts so you go on a rant. Truth hurts now doesn't it. LMAO!

      July 17, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  12. Douglas

    myweightinwords states,

    "If men were not meant to experience pleasure through the exploration of their anal cavity, why is the prostate located there and why does it provide s.e.xual pleasure?"

    Thanks for validating my point!

    You "could" have s.e.xual "pleasure" with a child--but that doesn't make it right or moral. This is truly evidence of the reprobate mind that Paul discussed in Romans. When you attempt to filter the Bible through a gay lens, you begin to destroy the morality which places limits on what is right and what is wrong.

    Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky put it best when he stated, "If there is no God, everything is permitted."

    The Jerry Sandusky's and growing ranks of teacher pedophiles are emboldened by the elasticity of s@xual morality that has been stretched through the "if I derive pleasure from this act, what's wrong with it" mentality. This again is evidence of a reprobate mind at work.

    Best,
    Douglas

    July 14, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • midwest rail

      Except for one simple fact that you conveniently omit – there is a huge difference between two consenting adults in a loving, committed relationship vs a child predator. Your transparent attempt to link the two brands you a contemporary faux Christian.

      July 14, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • jwt

      You could use that same silly argument to say that herero s ex is wrong as well.

      And god has never been necessary to have morals.

      July 14, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Thanks for validating my point!

      Perhaps you should re-read what I said and understand that s.e.x between two consenting adults has NOTHING to do with pe.do.philia.

      You "could" have s.e.xual "pleasure" with a child–but that doesn't make it right or moral. This is truly evidence of the reprobate mind that Paul discussed in Romans. When you attempt to filter the Bible through a gay lens, you begin to destroy the morality which places limits on what is right and what is wrong.

      I don't attempt to filter the bible through any lens. I don't care what the bible says. I'm not Jewish nor Christian. And again, s.e.xual pleasure obtained between two consenting adults in absolutely in no way equates to s.e.xual abuse of a child. They are not related in any way, shape or form.

      Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky put it best when he stated, "If there is no God, everything is permitted."

      Which does not pre-dispose nor prove that it is YOUR god, and not one of the millions of others...nor does it make the statement true. If it were, how then can those who have no god actually have rules? And they do. They're called laws and human decency. In fact many of the most decent people I know are atheists.

      The Jerry Sandusky's and growing ranks of teacher pedophiles are emboldened by the elasticity of s@xual morality that has been stretched through the "if I derive pleasure from this act, what's wrong with it" mentality. This again is evidence of a reprobate mind at work.

      It is probable that pedophiles have long been a part of the make up of the human race. It is largely due to the fact that children were overlooked in previous centuries, told to be seen and not heard, and would not have been believed if they actually spoke up about any abuse. The "boom" of pedophiles being brought to justice is more to do with modern society's opening up the lines of communication, giving children the right to speak up, along with modern medicine and psychiatric care making it easier to spot the symptoms.

      July 16, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Do you know what you're talking about?

      Douglas – please don't preach to people what your interpretation of the bible is. It is obvious, you don't understand a lot. But if you really feel like being a literal about the bible, I encourage you to gather some stones. I'm sure you've said "God" before. So according to Leviticus 24: 16 : Whoever utters the name of the Lord must be put to death. The whole community must stone him whether alien or native. If he utters the name, he must be put to death.

      Time to put Douglas down – according to the bible, that it. I am a pacifist, so that crap doesn't jive with me.

      July 29, 2012 at 12:19 am |
  13. Bob

    Is America the greatest country in the world my answer to what has changed

    July 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • YeahRight

      You're a great example of what is wrong in this country because you are NOT doing what is morally right or fighting for the civil rights of others, instead you are trying to spread your unfounded prejudice and bigotry that isn't based on ANY real facts. You are part of the PROBLEM!

      Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      July 14, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • Bob

      Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah yearight blah blah blah blah blah blah blah yearight blah blah blah blah blah halb halb blah blah blah halb halb halb blah blah lies blah blah yeawrong

      July 14, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Faux Christian Bob – setting the standard for intellectual dishonesty, arrogance, and vindictiveness.

      July 14, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • STINGER

      I fail to see what a fictional character, with fictional statistics in an HBO series has anything to do with the issue at hand. At that, not once does this opener say one thing about the bible, gays, lesbians or the church. Might as well have posted a video of Phelps winning a medal, at least that would be non fictional. Another night full of mindless posts reading.

      August 4, 2012 at 3:18 am |
  14. David

    The eighth, and final scripture comes from Jude 1:6-7. This passage recounts the story of the angels who long ago "did not keep their positions" in the spiritual realm, but left that which was natural for them to cohabit with women (Genesis 6:1-4). Their ensuing offspring were considered an abomination to God.

    Jude 1:6-7 (ASV)

    “And angels that kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, having in like manner with these given themselves over to fornication and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.”

    Jude 1:6-7 (NIV)

    "And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home – these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire."

    This scripture is rarely used any more against homosexuality because it is understood by most to mean that the angels were leaving what was “natural” for them (i.e. their spiritual plain) to cohabit with humans. This union between “strange flesh” was considered out of God’s intended order of things.

    In like manner the entire male population of Sodom (physical beings) wanted to rape these angelic messengers (spiritual beings). This was something that not only was a horrific crime but like Jude, out of the natural order of things. We can only imagine the supernatural power such spiritual beings have. Who is mortal man to stand in their way if God did not restrain them, or us, from such liaisons? We can only speculate that the men of Sodom hoped to receive some sort of supernatural power from these unearthly visitors by raping them. Remember – the primary religions of the day were the fertility cults that believed, as part of their religious rites, that sexual relations with another somehow conveyed a portion of that person’s strength and power to you. In the case of temple prostitutes, having sex with one would convey to the participant a blessing from the god the temple prostitute was a proxy for.

    This scripture is mentioned because it is still used on occasion against homosexuality by those who interpret the words "strange flesh" to infer homosexuality. This is a speculative leap at best! Nowhere do we see any reference to homosexuality. Instead these Scriptures, and their related cross-references, make it abundantly clear that the “strange flesh” being discussed here relates to spiritual beings having sexual relations with physical beings. In addition, those of us who are gay would quickly point out that making love with others of our own sex is what is natural for us. Conversely, sexual relations with the opposite sex is the "strange" and “unnatural” act for us.

    July 13, 2012 at 10:44 am |
  15. John

    "The rewards that I have receive far outweigh anything that I may have had to give up"

    Some argue that since homosexual behavior is "unnatural" it is contrary to the order of creation. Behind this pronouncement are stereotypical definitions of masculinity and femininity that reflect rigid gender categories of patriarchal society. There is nothing unnatural about any shared love, even between two of the same gender, if that experience calls both partners to a fuller state of being. Contemporary research is uncovering new facts that are producing a rising conviction that homosexuality, far from being a sickness, sin, perversion or unnatural act, is a healthy, natural and affirming form of human sexuality for some people. Findings indicate that homosexuality is a given fact in the nature of a significant portion of people, and that it is unchangeable.

    Our prejudice rejects people or things outside our understanding. But the God of creation speaks and declares, "I have looked out on everything I have made and `behold it (is) very good'." . The word (Genesis 1:31) of God in Christ says that we are loved, valued, redeemed, and counted as precious no matter how we might be valued by a prejudiced world.

    There are few biblical references to homosexuality. The first, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, is often quoted to prove that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But the real sin of Sodom was the unwillingness of the city's men to observe the laws of hospitality. The intention was to insult the stranger by forcing him to take the female role in the sex act. The biblical narrative approves Lot's offer of his virgin daughters to satisfy the sexual demands of the mob. How many would say, "This is the word of the Lord"? When the Bible is quoted literally, it might be well for the one quoting to read the text in its entirety.

    Leviticus, in the Hebrew Scriptures, condemns homosexual behaviour, at least for males. Yet, "abomination", the word Leviticus uses to describe homosexuality, is the same word used to describe a menstruating woman. Paul is the most quoted source in the battle to condemn homosexuality ( 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 and Romans 1: 26-27). But homosexual activity was regarded by Paul as a punishment visited upon idolaters by God because of their unfaithfulness. Homosexuality was not the sin but the punishment.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul gave a list of those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God. That list included the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers. Sexual perverts is a translation of two words; it is possible that the juxtaposition of malakos, the soft, effeminate word, with arsenokoitus, or male prostitute, was meant to refer to the passive and active males in a homosexual liaison.

    Thus, it appears that Paul would not approve of homosexual behavior. But was Paul's opinion about homosexuality accurate, or was it limited by the lack of scientific knowledge in his day and infected by prejudice born of ignorance? An examination of some of Paul's other assumptions and conclusions will help answer this question. Who today would share Paul's anti-Semitic attitude, his belief that the authority of the state was not to be challenged, or that all women ought to be veiled? In these attitudes Paul's thinking has been challenged and transcended even by the church! Is Paul's commentary on homosexuality more absolute than some of his other antiquated, culturally conditioned ideas?

    Three other references in the New Testament (in Timothy, Jude and 2 Peter) appear to be limited to condemnation of male sex slaves in the first instance, and to showing examples (Sodom and Gomorrah) of God's destruction of unbelievers and heretics (in Jude and 2 Peter respectively).

    That is all that Scripture has to say about homosexuality. Even if one is a biblical literalist, these references do not build an ironclad case for condemnation. If one is not a biblical literalist there is no case at all, nothing but prejudice born of ignorance, that attacks people whose only crime is to be born with an unchangeable sexual predisposition toward those of their own sex.

    July 13, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  16. YeahRight

    "instead of trying to basterdise Christianity"

    The only one doing that is you Bob, you're the one that is in denial that no where in the bible does your god condemn the saved loving respectful relationship of a gay couple. You're continued lies, prejudice and bigotry toward the gay community proves you do not follow the teachings of your Christ.

    July 13, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  17. YeahRight

    "Really if you change His word you are trying to change Jesus who is the Word. "

    The point is Bob no one is changing what is written in the bible, what they are pointing out to you is that you are reading your own prejudice and bigotry into the scriptures against the gay community. There is no way the writers of the bible understood sexual orientation the way we do today because it wasn't studied back then. The experts have proven that what was written about gays in the past were done by bias and prejudice people, that includes some of the writers in the bible. These experts are stating that heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

    July 13, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  18. YeahRight

    "those that would try to distort the Bible would do so to alleviate their own guilt"

    This is a lie because many that are posting the REAL truth about the gay community are straights so there is not alleviating guilt involved. You think everyone who is in support of civil rights for gays is gay and you are WRONG!

    July 13, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Mike

      H.o.m.o.s.e.x.u.a.l.s. don't follow Jesus. That is why they are per.vert.ed in their sins. They get tormented forever in the pits of hell as they scream for mercy for all time.

      July 13, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Who invited me?

      another lie from mike

      July 13, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • YeahRight

      "H.o.m.o.s.e.x.u.a.l.s. don't follow Jesus"

      Neither do you with that lie, there is even a piece that there are churches that are blessing their relationships and marrying them before their god, now according to your bible when that happens the do not sin. Duh! There are thousands of gay churches and there are even gay clergy so obviously you're clueless on this subject.

      July 13, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Primewonk

      Sorry Mike. Being born gay is no more perverted, wrong, immoral, or a sin, than being born left-handed or black.

      Oh...Wait...It wasn't that long ago that you religious wack-job nutters said being left-handed was a sign of the devil, and being black was the mark of Cain.

      July 13, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • myweightinwords

      @Mike, "H.o.m.o.s.e.x.u.a.l.s. don't follow Jesus. That is why they are per.vert.ed in their sins. They get tormented forever in the pits of hell as they scream for mercy for all time."

      Some gay folks do in fact follow Jesus. They're known as Christians. Not all of them do, this is certain. I know gay folks who are Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan and Atheist.

      The one thing they do share is that they love their partners.

      July 13, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  19. Bob

    As I think about the back and forth that is happening here I am wish sometimes that God was like the big corporations that if you violated the contract terms of employment that you would be fired. This is a immediate and noticeable rebuff that you did or said something wrong. But then I also remember that none would probably make it into heaven. But God doesn’t work this way and its not until the very end of our life that most really realize the mistakes they have done in life. The Bible promises us that the rewards and punishments will be waiting for us. When I became a Christian I looked at the contract between me and God and understood by faith the agreement and understood that I would break that agreement at times and also have forgiveness when I did. This was done by faith in the work that God did through Jesus. But I always knew the rules and what to live by and if something happened in my life the Spirit would remind me that I needed to ask forgiveness or make amends. I never wanted to change the rules in the Bible because even if you change words you will not change the rewards or punishment. I also know that I wanted a solid guide to meditate on and think about that would lead me to a greater knowledge of who I serve. I know I can’t live to the standards that God has set and no man can but I have faith in Him, I don’t need to bend or change the rules. Heck if I did it would only add more confusion which I want less of. I am not God either I wouldn’t dream of having the disrespect of changing His Word. Really if you change His word you are trying to change Jesus who is the Word. The other thing is He looks after His word to make sure it performs all that He intended it to. God has made time and made all the things of this world how amazing is it that those that would try to distort the Bible would do so to alleviate their own guilt rather than embrace the word so that it would do what it is supposed to do. That is drive us to God in hopes of redemption and a life with Him. He is the author and finisher of our faith not the Bible. God is not the Bible but the Bible is a piece of God. I love the word I love the promises of God I love the revelation of God to His own. He is not dead and He still does move in the lives of those that know Him. It’s not about religion but relationship. I would say this the Christian religion is based upon the Bible if you don’t like the words of the Bible and feel condemned why don’t you go make your own religion instead of trying to basterdise Christianity. But its all about feelings isn’t it, and if you feel bad then it must be bad but that is the farthest from the truth sometimes. To change how you feel sometimes we have to change how we act and the standard that shows us is the Bible. Have faith He is faithful and able to complete a good work in us. That is what matters if you don’t pin point the problem then you will never come to the solution. You will never understand the love of God either. If He loves us in spite of us breaking the law and wants to have a relationship with us then what is really important in His eyes? What will He not do for those that love Him, what has He already done in the giving of His Son.

    July 13, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Chad

      The effects of prejudice and racism are all around–constant fighting in Israel and Palestine, wars in the Middle East because of religion and killings in big cities and small towns all over the world because of the color of someone's skin or sexual orientation. This affects mankind deeply and can lead to cynicism and hopelessness. Unfortunately, many people misinterpret the Bible and use it to support their violence and prejudice against others. They take portions of verses and use them out of context so they can feel better about the horrible way they treat others.

      July 17, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Who invited me?

      Chad
      You are right...best to throw the bible out the window and think for yourself....good point.

      July 17, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  20. YeahRight

    "Rom 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures."

    Wow keep showing your poor reading comprehension. They were worshiping a pagan god using sex, it has NOTHING to do with the long term respectful relationship of a gay couple as we know and understand it today. Duh!

    July 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • Douglas

      There is nothing respectful about plowing into the termination of the alimentary canal of a human being with finger, fist, tongue or genitalia. That practice is sick! That is why the Bible code has forbidden these actions. Paul clearly identified those engaging in these depraved activities as exhibiting a reprobate mind!

      You just can't make a rose garden out a sewer and cesspool!

      The explosion of STDs and venereal disease "superbugs" is directly linked to these absurd practices.

      Abstinence is the only path to glory for those inclined to think this way.

      Bob, keep up the good work!

      Best, Douglas

      July 12, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
    • Bob Loblaw

      Religious people are so hung up on other peoples' sex lives, it's just amazing. Then they want everyone else to not push their agendas on them!

      Mind your own business, you repressed hypocrites!

      July 12, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Bob

      There are some that like America the way it was we don't want it to be a Godless society with every wrong behavior sanctioned and paid for by the government.

      July 13, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • Who invited me?

      Bob....you said "There are some that like America the way it was"

      What way was america and what changed? What do you mean by this statement?

      July 13, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • myweightinwords

      Douglas,

      If men were not meant to experience pleasure through the exploration of their anal cavity, why is the prostate located there and why does it provide s.e.xual pleasure?

      July 13, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • YeahRight

      "There is nothing respectful about plowing into the termination of the alimentary canal of a human being with finger, fist, tongue or genitalia. That practice is sick! "

      Well Duh Douglas, straight people have the same kind of sex. Wow are you are clueless on this subject. Oh and by the way there is more to a relationship than just sex moron.

      July 13, 2012 at 10:42 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.