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.
you can study the bible and make it say what you want it to say, soothe your consience fool yourself Jesus said their would be wolfs in sheep clothing come among you in the last days.
Yep, the anti-gay types are some nasty wolves.
Where does this gay man get off trying to lecture true Christians on what the Bible says? It sounds to me like someone's just trying to twist God's word, rather than just obeying what God said in the first place.
You never listened to all those boy-raping priests before, eh?
Definitely, Bob!! Amen!
Stupid video, obviously done by people who've never read the Bible, otherwise they wouldn't say something so ridiculous as Adam and Eve had only two children, both sons.
You don't have a verse that says otherwise, though.. Do you? LOL!! Still, the video shows how stupid is the christian ridiculous sh!t, don't you agree?
Sure, read Genesis. Nowhere does it say Adam and Eve ONLY had two children. The Bible isn't a complete narrative of human history and everything that happened to everyone named in it from Adam and Eve down to roughly 100 AD. It doesn't purport to describe everything and everyone. Clearly Adam and Eve could and probably did have lots of other children. The prominent story, though, is about Cain and Abel.
again killing me over here
keep them coming
**BREAKING OUT THE POPCORN***
This is going to be a long night folks
If Cain and Abel were Adam and Eve's only kids, where did all the wives come from? Cain married and had kids (Genesis 4:17). The genealogy given from Adam to Noah (Genesis 5) goes through Seth, another son of Adam and Eve. Often wives were not named in the Bible. Obviously a lot of children and other people are not mentioned in the Bible.
My children, I do not exist, so do not go to church on sunday, do not give the priest any more money to molest young boys, do not worry about the afterlife, as there is none. When you die, you are gone. You will become stardust one day, but you will never think another thought.
Any god who make a hell is too disgusting for me to believe is actually god.
God doesn't really care what you think. See e.g. Book of Job.
Yes, I know that god doesn't care what I think.. That's what I just told you.. A god who doesn't care about what I think is pretty fvcking worthless.. Besides, he's the sh!ttiest character I've ever read or heard about..
What if YOU are wrong? You'll spend eternity in HELL. If I am wrong, then I haven't missed anything and it won't matter.
bribery did not work for my parents and will sure NEVER work in the rest of my life. God is starting to sound more and more like Santa Claus. But I like Him.
I think if the Bible was turned into a movie, it would be a comedy for sure. You couldn't take to for a drama, but it does fall into fantasy. So there you have it: A FANTASY COMEDY
When does it come out?
Eternity in hell if I'm wrong? Please look up Pascal's Wager. It's an exceptionally bad argument.
Jesus...Im scared.....stardust? Well ok...but never to think another thought!!! Oh no....no...no...not that. Jesus there must be another way....look, I think if you look deep inside your heart you'll get me out of that undying death stuff yeah...and bring me to a better place...yeah..that's all I ask for, just a better place......and then we'll be together..once again...thinking our thoughts....er...nicer thoughts....yes...thats it...nicer thoughts...yeah...I like that.
He failed to mention the rest of Romans 1 ( NIV)
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Irrelevant. Regardless what it says, it is not an appropriate basis for law. If you were a true Christian, you would leave the judgment to god.
GAYS ARE PEDOS. KEEP THEM AWAY FROM OUR CHILDREN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
No, that's the priest you're talking about.
NEWSFLASH: Straights are pedos, too, and they outnumber the g@ys.
So much for all your priests then, huh?
There are straight pedophiles and there are gay pedophiles and pedophiles are bad.
Being gay does not = "bad" or perverted and just because someone is born gay does not mean they are after your kids.
Step into the light of the 21st Century, sir. It's a lot nicer out here where people are accepting of one another. Peace.
If your god hates gays then why would he create them. You logic is flawed and filled with hate. Last time I checked, your messiah preached about loving thy neighbor, regardless of his race, religion or other attributes.
God created the person, not the behavior and choices.
God didn't create people to be gay. Satan tempted them to be gay and they heeded his temptations.
Teach us about logic.
You have blended the question of free will versus determinism with the present issue, but you have not disclosed your presupposition of determinism. I would imagine you consider yourself "free" to choose. Follow that through, my friend, to its logical conclusion.
He didn't the fallen did .gods right hand created them out of envy.net like they envy the recognition given to man woman relationships
You people are too stupid to have an intelligent argument with....
What? God Did'Not create gays..... Grow Up...........
In the beginning, in Genesis, God created the Man and the Woman. And the first commandment he gave them was "Be fruitful and multiply."
I don't know how God could have been more clear that being gay is not okay.
Fields, sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but your brain has been taken over by a virus.. You think stupid sh!t is really cool.. The first thing you need to do is realize that the bible is just a fairy tale..
Huh? Since God encouraged a man and a woman to multiply, then men can't get married? Should all men and all women be forced to have children, then?
so being gay was not okay, but incest must have been just fine if you believe in the logic of the ridiculous story of Genesis
God didn't create airplanes either, I guess that means flying is a sin, too, right?
If God told you to jump off a cliff, does that make staying on the ledge wrong? In your case yes.
ya but in the same passage you are referring to, who exactly did their two sons get fruitful with if Eve was the only woman around.?
HMMMMMMMMM thats a hard one
if you take anything from the book of Genesis is that humans are greedy.
When Adam and Eve were created he told "Them" to go and be fruitful. But for some reasons the sons wanted that too. and got busy with mom.
Apparently the human race was suppose to only have TWO generations. How typical for humans to want more then their fair share.
It always amazes me how religious Republicans are until there is talk about raising taxes on the rich to help take care of the poor , sick, and helpless.... For those against gay marriage, President Obama is not stating that you have to agree with it or that it is not a sin, but he is stating that he believes that gay marriage should be legal within the U.S. based off of equal rights. Fifty years ago, you're grandparents made the same arguments against equal rights for African Americans. They were wrong then just like you are wrong now. Just remember the next time you feel like judging others, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged."
my guess is that this theologian is gay himself and had tried to justify his life style.He really needs to read romans again. God gave these gays , "over to a reprobate mind" Roms1:28 Vs 29 sounds like they are not people living in Gods will as it says" Being filled with all unrighteousness , Fornication, wickedness, covetousness , maliciousness , full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, ....and the list goes on. Yeah Jesus said," you wrest the scriptures to your own distraction"the writer is most likely one of the little boy priests.
Irrelevant! Not a good reason to oppress people.
Very insightful. People who support gay people are also gay. I suspect that many "whites" who supported equal rights for all races in the 60s were actually black.
People who want to justify their own sin but who have Christ on their own radar will find excuses for it and tailor Biblical scripture around it. That said, if he does believe in Christ, he will no doubt see the Kingdom of Heaven before any of the people mocking God and spitting on scripture while posting here will.
I like your use of modern language to refute his argument of a mistranslation. It is a very intelligent argument.
So much money has been spent on spreading this hatred, how about spending this money on feeding hungry people, giving medicine to sick, and stimulating the economy. Stop spending millions on anti-gay measures and spend it on a good helping heartfelt charity
Being gay is a choice. God doesn't make mistakes.He created a woman to be with Adam and gave us instructions about relationships. He hates the sin, but loves the sinner. Repent, and sin no more.
Being gay is not a choice, but being ignorant is.
wait until your son or nephew turns out gay and then we'll see if that s a choice you idiot.
you have no idea how miserable our life can be and you think that we chose it? i wish there were a God to burn you in hell for your thoughts.
If He doesnt make mistakes why did Adam get lonely and then he made Eve. Still tired from creating the earth in six days?
God didn't make mistakes, but felt it necessary to wipe out the world's population (save for a magical ship with one family on board). Clearly, the first time he made everything...it was perfect. Or was it his plan? Oh, imperfection is his plan. That must mean he is perfect. Take off the blinders, bud.
God doesn't make mistakes, but didn't realize that Adam and Eve would eat the forbidden fruit, or that the world would become wicked enough to have to kill almost everyone on it in a flood?
I do have family members and aquaintences who are gay. I don't have to like or tolerate the behavior...but I still love them and pray for them...can't stop me from doing that. I am not ignorant, but I do have a right to my own opinion.
first let me apologize for having used the word idiot. next, you said you know or have family members that are gay...do you really think that they chose to be that way? do you think that your prayers or sacrifices will make any difference? when i was younger i prayed every day for God to help those poor kids in Africa...he has not done much. do you think that turning gay into straight will take priority?
God made gay people, excoach and you're right, He doesn't make mistakes.
I can't imagine what your reaction would be if I told you Adam and Eve were probably some sort of monkey or ape.
If being gay is such a beautiful thing then i wonder why all the one that i know are married by hypocrisy to hide their preference and are not respecting their wives and treat them as rag. Also have noticed that they lie and love to create drama and problems. These are just a few examples, it would take too much time to describe all i have noticed of them in my lifetime.
When you learn how to write an opinion in proper English I will consider your opinion worth something.
They hide because of people like you. Hell, I'd hide too if I thought I had to spend my time around haters. If people were more accepting, everyone could be their authentic selves.
Human beings who are LGBT want and deserve what everyone else wants and deserves. People like YOU keep them in the closet.
@YouRwrong – Wait a minute – so, you have gay friends who made a "choice" to be straight and get married ended up making a bad choice that made their lives and their spouses wives miserable because they could not escape the fact that they weere gay. You just made a valid argument about why being gay is not a choice and that choosing to be someone you are not just to fit what Christians believe are societal norms not only adversely affects the life of the gay person, but their spouse and possibly their children. All for what? Thanks for the advice!
I remember the first time I saw two men kissing, I wanted to hurl my lunch on the spot. THAT is what an 'abomination' feels like: (noun) anything provoking a feeling of extreme disgust, revulsion, abhorrence, detestation and/or loathing.
However, I got over it, the more I was exposed to it, and now it no more makes a dent in my psyche. Maybe that is what people are experiencing now, the more people are exposed it it the less it affects them.
Funny, I'm straight and I can watch two men kiss without even flinching. Shouldn't an "abomination" offend all people equally?
Drew maybe you are gay and you just don't know it yet.
So YouRwrong, how do you propose Drew should be put to death? Stoning? Dismemberment?
Drew, what makes you think your conscience is so pure that offensive things would register?
So how can you be sure that the reason you wanted to hurl in the first place was due to natural causes, and not due to social conditioning?
Autocross the answer to your question is simple, i let God decide what to do with you both when your time comes.
I hope you are right, Merle. I hope that the more people are exposed to differences, the more accepting they will become. Love is love and we sure don't have enough of that in this world. Bring it on in whatever form and we'll be better off. Good night.
Excellent, YouRwrong, so why don't you apply the same principle to gays, whose decision to marry affects you in no way at all, and let them face judgment day when it comes rather than telll them what they should or shouldn't do?
It doesn't matter what the bible says because we do not live in a theocracy. And it's a good thing too; The 50 most religious countries in the world are the most miserable places on the planet, and the least religious countries in the world have the best quality of life and the happiest and healthiest citizens. There was a reason the founding fathers kept religion and state separate, since mixing them corrupts both. For some reason many people forget that.
i so agree
I don't think Jesus would care very much for most of you "Christians" on a personal level
I agree. I think he'd speak to us the same way he spoke to the Jewish leaders. It's a shame really..
Really, CNN? You couldn't get two leading biblical scholars to represent both sides of this debate?
Helminiak's arguments are a generation old, weak & have been repeatedly debunked.
After a week of articles on the so-called hypocrisy of the African American church, a conservative pastor who had to apologize for gay-bashing, a fallen televangelist's son who supports gay rights, and multiple Prothero articles... you'd think you could come up with ONE – can you not find even ONE? – one singular Bible scholar who would defend the classic interpretation of the Bible on this issue (remember, this is still the majority position among the 2B Christians on the planet).
So how about it? One scholar? I'll even give you a lead: Princeton Seminary had this debate a decade ago with scholars on both sides writing essays. Why not call them? If even *Princeton* can find conservatives among their ranks, maybe a little journalistic integrity can lead you to do the same...
Interesting how you cite popularity and tradition rather than accuracy. I suppose you'd also want CNN to counter every story on science with one from a witchcraft and sorcery perspective.
@ Arvine: no, I am all about accuracy on this one. But what's so incredible is that when accuracy, popularity, & tradition all align and yet a week later is not represented... that's a deafening silence in journalism – especially on a topic as hot & national as this one.
RASAK YOU'RE HSYTERICAL, KEEP IT COMING!!! DOWN WITH BLIND HATEFUL RELIGIONS...you can practice being a good person because you haev a good soul, not cause your'e told to or else...time to stop fearing and start loving
What a joke – when you bring in religion and the bible, and reason is lost to fantasy and tribalism.
So funny to see all the crazy people on here who think they know God and religion better than a man who is an ordained priest in Rome, a theologian, and psychotherapist... But who care about that right? It's what you feel in your gut that REALLY matters.. I mean there is NO WAY that feeling you get in your gut could just be the product bias from culture and how you were raised.
Gay marriage is not leading to any other form of anything. It is simply the act of asking for equal rights. Gay couples are denied from seeing one another in the hosiptal when one is dying. They have to pay inheritance tax and sometimes end up homeless because they cannot afford the inheritance tax. They cannot collect social security benefits from their partner. They cannot get health insurance coverage for their partner. They cannot marry someone from another country and get them citizenship.
Gay people do not care about your churches and getting married there. A church is welcome to deny whomever they want from marriage. Gay people just want to be able to get the same government, health, and financial benefits as everyone else.
Let's just remember to love and stop hating. Love Love Love and that's it. That is what you should be learning in church.
and gays have more rights than a man and woman who are just living together...
Love your post yogaswim
They do in many states. Look up common law marriage.
In the end everyone will have to answer for hisself or herself to their higher power.
Stardust? True that. I'm going to live my life now...this one right this second that I know I have and I'm going to do it to the best of my ability – with kindness, compassion and understanding for others.
Well said "Please"
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