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.
This guy is an IDIOT. He needs to read about what God did to Sodom...He rained down fire to destroy it and all the people in it.
So the Bible says. That was written by a group of men.
Yes, but for the reasons that the writer made clear IN HIS OPINION. He's allowed to be an idiot, although he, at least, is doing so by choice. You seem to be of the idiot type that gets there without even thinking about it. Oh, wait – that's an ignoramus.
So should you.
Sodom was not a gay story.
The Gospel is the Power of God for Salvation to Everyone who believes!!
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
I hope you used the cut and paste from somewhere.
Throw that pesky, "Love they neighbor" bs out the window. It doesn't fit your stance. Go ahead and ignore "with liberty and justice for all," too, for the same reason. Quote all you want from the Bible; you are wrong to be unkind to your fellow human.
"ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL" shows how different things are today from "yesterday." Obviously fakers like to say that it included "women" too but back then women were just short of chattel and never reached votehood until the 1920s. To use the Bible as a source for anything social, given the antisocial nature of the Bible and the horrific fear it raised between hell and damnation, a late interpretation like this is nothing more than an attempt to give it credence. The Bible is a great myth abt mankind to explain itself and codify some ridiculous rules and customs that slap U in the face even when U turn the other cheek.
There is enough in the bible to interpret it any way one wishes, in favor of, or against their position on just about anything... including a rapist who wants to marry his victim.
It says was ordained a priest not WAS an ordained priest.
WHO has the agenda?
You have an agenda.
He has an opinion.
Nvr commented on cnn blog before but I love CNN and feel compelled. In LOVE I share that this article is not sound doctrine. We should love each other, gay or straight, but Leviticus 18:22 is very clear and not mentioned in this article. The bible says the same things over and over, its nvr a "translation issue" just keep reading and praying... LOVE
Lets get to it. Brian you are correct because "Christians" which I used to be don't really know anything in the Bible, just a few memory verses learned in sunday school. Yahshua said "take my yoke and learn of me for my yoke is easy and my burden is light", What was HE talking about? Also HE said, "If you love me, you will keep my principles and instructions (Commandments for those GREEK MINDED). The original writings were in HEBREW, NOT JEW, lets get that straight also. Abraham WAS NOT A JEW. He was from present day Iraq! Christians STUDY TO SHOW YOURSELF APPROVED unto Yahweh! That way when this type of crap is posted to a news site you don't make yourself look stupid by arguing with unbelievers. If you are really KINGDOM of ELOHIM people you don't leave your place of the kingdom. Secular people ASSUME they know the Word by what you give them to say because of your ignorance! Yes they repeat more of it back to you and then you get confused. Yes what Brian said, you don't even know what TORAH is! IT IS NOT JEWISH, IT IS HEBREW. They were called Israelites, Judah whom we get Jew from was a 4th son out of 12 brothers. I will leave you with that christans! When you know the truth, and it makes you free, then you wont have to get upset about articles like this because it is man NOT Yahweh! You can see the ignorance with the writer saying after Yahshua came, grace came. NEWS FROM THE FRONT, Grace has ALWAYS been here from the beginning and still exists, that is why we all are still here. Also just an observation since Hebrew was the original language of the Isrealites and it was translated into GREEK, it has LOST alot since there were not greek words for the Hebrew so just FILLED IN/REPLACED. Just like if I had a GM car and purchased a Lexus repair manual to fix my GM car, wont make sense, but it could be done but not done with a full understanding. HENCE today's numerous translations of the Word of Elohim. Oh by the way, if you ever get the chance, MOSES had written the principles and instructions BEFORE he when up to the mountain to get them on the stone tablets. Its right there in the bible, just study...
Makes Sense. Christians never take the time to find out what the bible really says because questioning any of it validity is an interpretation of lack of faith. Questions like, who constructed the bible, what have we lost in translation, why do babies and mentally disabled get a pass at professing the faith and go straight to heaven if it is so black and white are all part of the reason christianity is lost. Amen.
We do not live in a theocracy!!!! Isn't it odd that we condemn the imposition of religious law in muslim countires, but imposition of chrisition law, wheather you beleive it is correct or not, is accepted here.
That's different. Because, um, the New Testament says so.
They are trying as hard as possible to make this a theocracy.
In his opening paragraph, the ex priest fires a salvo against any who would disagree, calling them creatures "circling for a kill." I don't mind this expression of opinion, but it would have been good to hear from the 'other side' as well. There are good people on both sides of this 'argument'.
I thought Paul's writings had been proven to have been written long after Paul's death, in fact he gets a bad rap for all of his anti-woman writing but it supposedly wasnt even him who wrote it.
I don't go to church like I did when I was a teen, and I'm at the point where I (even though I am gay) I worship God in my own way as I feel that it what makes us unique to him. I'm not saying I don't trust those who were called to preach, but I guaruntee you that most who preach hatred of the LGBTQ community, have never read the bible all the way through. Most of the time people who want to pick an arguement about the subject with me, I just say this: "Keep you beliefs to yourself, let me live my life, and we'll find out who was right and wrong on judgement day!", and that pretty mush closes any arguements that I might get involved with right there. And for those who try to twist the words of the bible to suit there own beliefs I heed caution to you what Revelations 22:18-19 says about that!
Why are books written by various men at various times and interpreted by millions of people to suit there particular positions taken as the word of God? if there is a God, he/she created us all. Different but not lesser. Those who spend their lives hating others because they are different and try to justify it by finding words written written long ago by men with their own hatreds.....are the ones who will ultimately spend their eternities in very toasty climates.
There's a circular argument in yor "if there is a God, he/she created us all. Different but not lesser." Y wud an all-knowing, all-seeing, all mighty being create "lesser beings" or for that matter "different beings." Y wud a really ALMIGHTY create only good beings? The current image of "GOD" is precisely a sick god who entertains him/herself watching human kind and its miserable history toward each other or one another.
This guy's "professional theology" is just another trick of Satan to mix a little bit of truth with a really big lie. If you want to listen to mixed up people like this, it is your choice. But Hell awaits those who try to change what the Word of God makes very clear.
Guess I will see you there.
I would think by now that people who are for Gay Rights to Marry understand your interpretation of where their souls will go. I JUST THINK YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND THAT THEY OBVIOUSLY DON'T CARE WHAT YOU SAY.
Get over it already!
There's gonna be one big party in hell...I'll bring the Vodka!!!!
Or so you say. Do you have any evidence of that? And I mean evidence, not hearsay.
Outstanding claims demand outstanding proof. And there's not even weak evidence of what you say.
Satan duznt exist.
@Dragon: I got the chips. And Nim has the dip.
Can i join the party ?
Sadly this so called theology teacher and author is not only wrong but intentionally ignorant. Sodomites are lost unless they quit/repent and accept Christ. That is the way it is! Yet sinners love to argue because they KNOW they are wrong!
Actually we are trying our hardest to educate you to the real world. The world of facts and fiction.
Phillip (aka Pot) meet Kettle....
Yet sinners love to argue because they KNOW they are wrong!
Nope, we are not sinners, we are right.
I love the way the writer injects "ethical" into this story and ignores everything else just because it is not said.
He's a "professor in the department of humanistic and transpersonal psychology" and teaches "Mysticism, Personal Growth, and "God" in the Brain" at the University of West Georgia. Nuff said.
Leviticus 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.
theres the scripture....
And I'll just bet you follow all of Leviticus to a T, right?
...as in Jewish law...and Jesus preached against much of it. Get your testaments right.
Don't forget to add the rest of that books teachings:
The whole teachings of Leviticus 20
Punishments for Sin
The L.o.r.d. said to M.o.s.e.s., 2 “Say to the I.s.r.a.e.l.i.t.e.s.: ‘Any I.s.r.a.e.l.i.t.e. or any f.o.r.e.i.g.n.e.r residing in I.s.r.a.e.l. who s.a.c.r.i.f.i.c.e.s. any of his children to M.o.l.e.k. is to be put to d.e.a.t.h.. The members of the community are to s.t.o.n.e. him.
3 I myself will set my face against him and will c.u.t. him off from his people; for by s.a.c.r.i.f.i.c.i.n.g. his children to M.o.l.e.k., he has d.e.f.i.l.e.d. my s.a.n.c.t.u.a.r.y. and p.r.o.f.a.n.e.d. my h.o.l.y. name.
4 If the members of the community close their eyes when that man s.a.c.r.i.f.i.c.e.s. one of his children to M.o.l.e.k. and if they fail to put him to d.e.a.t.h.,
5 I myself will set my face against him and his family and will c.u.t. them off from their people together with all who follow him in p.r.o.s.t.i.t.u.t.i.n.g. themselves to M.o.l.e.k.
6 “‘I will set my face against anyone who turns to mediums and s.p.i.r.i.t.i.s.t.s. to p.r.o.s.t.i.t.u.t.e. themselves by following them, and I will c.u.t. them off from their people.
7 “‘C.o.n.s.e.c.r.a.t.e. yourselves and be h.o.l.y., because I am the L.o.r.d. .your G.o.d.
8 Keep my d.e.c.r.e.e.s. and follow them. I am the L.o.r.d., who makes you .h.o.l.y.
9 “‘Anyone who c.u.r.s.e.s. their father or mother is to be put to d.e.a.t.h. Because they have c.u.r.s.e.d. their father or mother, their b.l.o.o.d. will be on their own head.
10 “‘If a man commits a.d.u.l.t.e.r.y. with another man’s wife —with the wife of his neighbor—both the a.d.u.l.t.e.r.e.r. and the a.d.u.l.t.e.r.e.s.s. are to be put to d.e.a.t.h.
11 “‘If a man has s.e.x.u.a.l. r.e.l.a.t.i.o.n.s. with his father’s wife, he has d.i.s.h.o.n.o.r.e.d. his father. Both the man and the woman are to be put to d.e.a.t.h.; their b.l.o.o.d. will be on their own h.e.a.d.s.
12 “‘If a man has s.e.x.u.a.l. r.e.l.a.t.i.o.n.s. with his daughter-in-law, both of them are to be put to d.e.a.t.h.. What they have done is a p.e.r.v.e.r.s.i.o.n.; their b.l.o.o.d. will be on their own heads.
13 “‘If a man has s.e.x.u.a.l. r.e.l.a.t.i.o.n.s. with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is d.e.t.e.s.t.a.b.l.e.. They are to be put to d.e.a.t.h.; their b.l.o.o.d. will be on their own heads.
14 “‘If a man m.a.r.r.i.e.s. both a woman and her mother, it is .w.i.c.k.e.d.. Both he and they must be b.u.r.n.e.d. in the fire, so that no w.i.c.k.e.d.n.e.s.s. will be among you.
15 “‘If a man has s.e.x.u.a.l. r.e.l.a.t.i.o.n.s. with an a.n.i.m.a.l., he is to be put to d.e.a.t.h., and you must k.i.l.l. the a.n.i.m.a.l..
16 “‘If a woman approaches an a.n.i.m.a.l. to have s.e.x.u.a.l. r.e.l.a.t.i.o.n.s. with it, k.i.l.l. both the woman and the a.n.i.m.a.l. They are to be put to d.e.a.t.h.; their b.l.o.o.d. will be on their own heads.
17 “‘If a man m.a.r.r.i.e.s. his sister , the daughter of either his father or his mother, and they have s.e.x.u.a.l. r.e.l.a.t.i.o.n.s., it is a d.i.s.g.r.a.c.e. They are to be publicly r.e.m.o.v.e.d. from their people. He has d.i.s.h.o.n.o.r.e.d. his sister and will be held responsible.
18 “‘If a man has s.e.x.u.a.l. r.e.l.a.t.i.o.n.s. with a woman during her monthly p.e.r.i.o.d., he has e.x.p.o.s.e.d. the source of her flow, and she has also u.n.c.o.v.e.r.e.d. it. Both of them are to be c.u.t. o.f.f. from their people.
19 “‘Do not have s.e.x.u.a.l. r.e.l.a.t.i.o.n.s. with the sister of either your mother or your father, for that would d.i.s.h.o.n.o.r. a close r.e.l.a.t.i.v.e.; both of you would be held responsible.
20 “‘If a man has s.e.x.u.a.l. r.e.l.a.t.i.o.n.s. with his aunt, he has d.i.s.h.o.no.r.e.d. his uncle. They will be held responsible; they will d.i.e. child.less.
21 “‘If a man marries his brother’s wife, it is an act of .i.m.p.u.r.i.t.y; he has d.i.s.h.o.n.o.r.e.d. his brother. They will be child.less.
22 “‘Keep all my d.e.c.r.e.e.s. and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not v.o.m.i.t. you out.
23 You must not live according to the c.u.s.t.o.m.s. of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I a.b.h.o.r.r.e.d. them.
24 But I said to you, “You will p.o.s.s.e.s.s. their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.” I am the L.o.r.d. your G.o.d., who has set you apart from the nations.
25 “‘You must therefore make a distinction between c.l.e.a.n. and u.n.c.l.e.a.n. animals and between u.n.c.l.e.a.n. and c.l.e.a.n. birds. Do not d.e.f.i.l.e. yourselves by any animal or bird or anything that moves along the ground—those that I have set apart as u.n.c.l.e.a.n. for you.
26 You are to be h.o.l.y. to me because I, the L.o.r.d., am h.o.l.y., and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.
27 “‘A man or woman who is a me.d.i.u.m. or s.p.i.r.i.t.i.s.t among you must be put to d.e.a.t.h.. You are to s.t.o.n.e. them; their b.l.o.o.d. will be on their own heads.’”
STOP CHERRY-PICKING YOUR S.C.R.I.P.T.U.R.E.
That covered a lot so I guess there will be one BIG party in Hell. Cheers!
If you ask James about the rest of Leviticus you will get silence.
So in the next verse Jesus says if you call a man a fool you have committed murder. So did Jesus reject the 10 commandments too?
Congratulations for a wonderful article! Even better are the comments section...
Keep giving voice to hatred, both from the author and from commentators.
CNN neglects to mention Daniel is gay. A very FOX NEWS thing to do.
Sorry, I missed the author's hatred. Could not find it.
@Texa: So a Christian should not write about Jesus. Lots of bias in there.
CNN neglects to mention Daniel is gay. A very FOX NEWS thing to do.
Gay people shouldnt write about how the bible has been twisted to attack them ?
Who cares. This book was written thousands of years ago by a group of nomads. They knew nothing about genetics or biology or science. For those who choose to believe in these fairy tales, that's fine. But the rest of us need to make sure that religion is kept out of our government.
It was written by men, men the selected articles that were included in the Bible, and men translated the Bible. Men.
Then keep the government out of religion too you fool!
Very well stated!
Oh really? You can prove that statement to be true? Because you were their and have ironclad proof? I personally know people alive today that don't know about any of those subjects you mentioned. High technology and science has always been here and always will be here. There is nothing new under the sun. Doctors and flying craft...they had it all. Cave paintings don't lie. Ever seen an ancient Roman woman's makeup compact and brush? I have. How about ancient Egyptian surgical instruments or higher mathmatics? Ahhhh but ignorance...that will never leave the human race. Thanks for providing us a prime example.
and we all know MEN don't lie
**** Doctors and flying craft...they had it all.
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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.