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.
Unfortunately people nowadays just use the excuse of God to argue everything. Regarding gay marriage, this is a personal choice by people who are entering this agreement, it shouldnn't be judged by others as wrong or right – but I guess judging others became part of human's nature. We will never know what God intended by His words in the Bible – the Bible, as any other book – can be interpreted in many ways according to any excuse a person may be looking for. Hopefully humanity will learn to live their lives respecting other people's choices and stop trying to find excuses for their own acting as Gods.
So God, who will send you to Hell if you don't do what He says, created a Book that is open to interpretation?
Couldn't take this guy seriously after "the greater sin, condemned in the Bible from cover to cover: hatred, injustice, cruelty, lack of concern for others." Seriously, God was the embodiment of all that in the Old Testament.
No man did it to justify killing his enemies
Who cares what the Bible has to say. I don't ask Dr. Seus for advice on moral issues!
Who cares about the sign on the barricade that says the bridge is out? Just keep driving straight ahead. If you don't believe it is true, then it must not be true.
Talk about "wrestling" with the scripture to their own destruction, *pure* garbage!
Everyone picks what they like from the Bible and ignors the rest. Nothing new.
>>>"Everyone picks what they like from the Bible and ignors the rest. "
You mean the same way that some Atheist pick a specific "hand of an angry God" scripture and ignore the peace and love scriptures?
Bible isn't one peoples beliefs or gods word there are ancient books of wisdom all over the world the Bible just one
Don't be a silly whore.
I thought CNN was news ,For the Last week or so ALL that's been on is GAY this and that , THIS ELECTIONS IS ABOUT THE ECONOMY !!! And not to mention the president was FORCED to come out and support GAYS. Lets report both sides!
The president wasn't FORCED to do anything. He could have said that nothing has changed.
The President was against Gay Marriage during the GOP Primaries. When Romney came out of the Primaries as the last man standing ... and Romney's poll numbers are now closer or tied to his, he decides that now he needs the Gay community.
Remember, this is a person that had a congress that was of his own party for two years and they did nothing for Gays or Lesbians. Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell were the Gay groups in the Republican who fought and won the repeal, when Obama did nothing.
That GAY pastor Long is very good at quoting from the Holy Bible too. How ironic!
Everyone picks what they want from the Bible.
That's why there are so many Christian HYPOCRITES who ignor the Golden Rule.
Why I don't waste my time there
Santa, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, God/Jesus/Bible all fake! However Leprechauns... they're real!
This guy is a heretic, a liar, obviously can't read, and is no theologian. Surely some of the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who would lead people into further darkness.
I say, be gay, believe in a God, but don't pretend to believe in the Bible. I don't think the God of the Bible takes the twisting of His words lightly.
Lol.please tell me you're a troll, and not serious.
He has been a priest and is a theologian.
Obviously he knows more about the Bible than you ever will.
Actually, he is a pretty sound theologian. In 20 -30 years Christians will look back and be amazed that people who believed otherwise could be so close minded. They will be looked upon in the same way we look upon those who were against the vote for women, interracial marriage and desegregation. The people of those times were as convinced that they were justified by the Bible as you are today on the topic of gays and gay marriage.
read the book : misquoting jesus". he is a theologian and states that the bible was written by scribes many of which were barely literate. Rewriten many times, most notably by king james. fake fake fake. get a grip folks.
cnsrv, you obviously have not done your own research through multiple sources. Instead it appears you have relied on one source who has done shoddy research or is distorting the evidence he has found. If you truly want to make a critical, well-founded analysis of the validity of the Bible, read "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell or "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Both of these atheists set out to prove the Bible was false and determined that there is more manuscript evidence (over 5,000 pieces) supporting the Bible's accuracy than any other piece of ancient writings. They also sought to discredit the Bible in many other areas but failed to do so. In fact, the deeper they dug that more convinced they became that the Bible is true and accurate.
http://www.bidstrup.com/apologetics.htm – refutes "The Case for Christ"
http://www.answering-christianity.com/criticism.htm#Jury - refutes "Evidence That Demands a Verdict"
FYI. I have read through enough of Dan Barker's analysis of "The Case for Christ" to see that he has many flaws in his lengthy analysis – too many to get into in this blog. The same is true of the various individuals that commented on "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" at Answering Christianity web site. Instead of me analyzing the work done by all these people and then you and I discussing my analysis of their work, I recommend that you read the books yourself and draw your own conclusions as opposed to accepting the conclusions of me or any of these other people.
The world is getting so sick, everything is a free for all. I don't give a crap about whether gays marry each other. What does it matter, everything is so twisted anyway. No one care what God wants, most people laugh at the God of the Bible. Most ppl dont even believe in a God anymore. Go ahead, call me an ignorant bigot that will be left behind blah blah blah.
There's a good christian, Nihlism really fits you.
Seriously, just think it through. It's all a big lie to keep you occupied.
Youre right, good christians don't change their beliefs just because they are unpopular. I don't just believe things b/c a pastor tells me so, b/c i do my own research and I care what God wants from me no matter how the world perceives it.
Just like christians didn't change their beliefs about slavery or stoning.
Very obvious that through out time there have been true christians and false. It has to do with misinterpreting scripture. Ppl use scripture to wage wars. And now misinterpretation to support gays.
What would be the recompense of one who invents a lie against God?
what are u talking about?
What I love most about women self lubricating
You are truly disgusting and no gentleman. God must not like you if he keeps inflicting natural disasters on your area.
Hurricane ally was happening long before I got here hell must have been the Indians cursed the land but they had them to still do and what's disgusting about woman juice I'm a man I love
Unfortunately, what many of the more reasonable people on this site have missed is the main reason that the hatred and bigotry continues: FEAR. All these psalm-singing, bible-th.umping, glad-handing, back-slapping, sanctimonious, righteous, holier-than-ALL folks are scared to DEATH and BACK of anything that is outside their realm of understanding. Or anything that they were TOLD would infect their minds and their world. Or anything that the "pastor" said was "bad."
Scary, scary stuff, isn't it? When two people, genetically predisposed toward a different lifestyle love each other and wish to express that love the same way everyone else does, that's just downright TERRIFYING! Or so one would think after reading through the responses here. How sad it must be to live one's life in such fear!
Don't worry, poor people brainwashed by your religious dogma... the ga.ys will not "infect" you or your children. They will not cause ho.mo.s.ex.uality by going through a civil ceremony and calling it a "marriage." They will not impinge on your lifestyle whatsoever and anyone who told you differently – well – they lied. Don't be afraid... your fear is the root cause of your hate and bigotry... and you know your god doesn't love haters or bigots, does he? ;)
It is unnatural they parade it hey look at me I'm a guy in panties . They will infect your children by teaching them man on man is ok and natural.I don't thump a Bible only go to church for funerals
and you don't go to Mardi Gras either.
I agree that many "Christians" are wrong in condemning gays, were suppose to love everyone unconditionally, unfortunately we have failed miserably.
You say if they have a genetic predisposition than it's okay. So if I have a genetic predisposition to get angry is it okay for me to go around punching people? This is a fallen world, we will feel like doing wrong stuff. But the power of God helps us overcome struggles that are impossible without Christ's help in our souls through the Holy Spirit.
Don't be angry at us Christians because we make the mistake of condemning others. It's not worth it.
Naturalistic Fallacy Much?
Took my 3 year old to fat Tuesday had a blast I grew up on Mardi gras
How warped did your 3-year-old get from seeing hetero guys dressed in drag?
G.ays don't go around harming others, do they? If so, how?? How does a g.ay couple cause harm to you or yours? Your example was a poor one, at best... fallacious at worst.
And, m'dear, I don't hate you. On the contrary, I feel terribly sorry for those who live in such fear of that which they do not understand. You obviously don't understand how a ho.mo.se.xual lifestyle could be genetic or you wouldn't have used such a fallacious argument. Please, stop the blind fear – it only leads you to more hatred and bigotry. Try to see things from the other side and perhaps you might find yourself feeling less insecure and afraid.
Observe you must be thinking about new orleans drags in mobile know better on fat Tuesday that's family day here they stay hid in the gay section
So if two consenting men can marry and two consenting women can marry, why is it not OK for a man or woman to marry multiple wives or husbands that all consent and are of legal age?
Honestly, in the law it comes down to taxes and how to claim dependents, and tax write offs, etc..., If one man can in fact find 5, 6, 50 women to all agree on their own volition to marry him, religiously it shouldn't be an issue.
Yes yes more p..sy for me
So if it's ok for a man to marry a woman, is it ok for a man to marry his mother? His sister? His daughter? Clearly a man should not be allowed to marry a woman.
You can't marry your daughter in Alabama
The bible had it, so that must make it ok, right?
Depends on which biblical society you lived some condoned it some condemned it just depends on where you were from like today
It will be taking a beast as a spouse soon, followed by murder, drugs,etc.. What is wrong with those?
I love how people are saying that it is a scholarly article with research that backs it up. Yes, he does cite many sources, but he also make statements to support his arguments without providing any citations. The following is a great example: "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." True, the patriarchs had many wives and concubines, but then he makes a conclusory statement about David and Jonathan, Naomi and Ruth, and Daniel and the palace master without any support. Seems to me like the article was written as an argument to justify himself rather than an article that reaches an objective opinion.
It's called an opinion piece, you know, a thing that people right where they create an argument and then back it up with citation. Instead of trying to knock the writer or say that his opinions are unsubstantiated (which as you have already pointed out, is false), cite parts of the bible that invalidate his argument.
Apparently you are not familiar with the story of David and Jonathan. Read up on it and then get back to us.
You're are"right" that it is an opinion piece. That was my point. The people commenting seem to be saying that it is an objectively researched article. I was making the point that it clearly is not.
@GrowUp: I know the story. It's one of two very good friends. It doesn't say anything about them being gay. Sorry if you've read into the story more than is actually there.
Better sources of information:
Christopher West: Theology of the Body for Beginners
John Paul II: Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body
I believe the Bible should be taken with a grain of salt. It may be Gods word but it was written by man and therefore contaminated with original sin. If you are using it to treat people badly your reading it wrong.
HERESY! KILL THE UNBELIEVER!
Please read 2 Timothy 3:16 in the KJV before you say God's Word must be taken with a grain of salt. For example, in Isaiah 40, it clearly says that God sits above the circle of the earth. These words were written about 2,700 years back through the inspiration of God, of course with human hands. When a famous person said that the earth was round several hundred years back, people laughed him to scorn and mocked him! The Words from the Bible were taken with several grains of salt then! Today when you take pictures of the earth from outer space, what is the shape of the earth? God's Word had the answers about 2,700 years back and it took all this time for Man to realize that His Word was right after all! Faith in God is what matters! Trust in the Lord, not those jokers in Washington! They speak out of both sides of their mouth forgetting the fact that the original founders of this great country believed and trusted in God. This breed of politicians are going to bankrupt this nation of moral values and the hard-earned money of honest taxpayers. Pray for this nation and don't glorify sin! No religion advocates abortion and a loose way of life and yet we as a nation are playing into the hands of the Devil. Time will tell you this my friend. You will not reap wheat when you sow weed!
It is immoral to impose your religious superstition on others.
You do not believe in religion because you honestly think it is true, you believe in it because you fear mortality or are seeking meaning in your life. It does not take a genius to figure out all religion is man made, so for humanity's sake, please stop lying to yourself.
Deluding yourself in religion does not change reality. Lying to yourself is probably the worst possible way to try to find meaning.
I was an agnostic for over 11 years and held the same thoughts you have just mentioned. During that time I did a great deal of research and determined that there is more evidence supporting the truthfulness and credibility of the Bible than any other piece of literature that has ever existed. If you truly want to determine this for yourself I recommend you read to books written by two different atheists that set out to prove the Bible was false. The first is "The Case for Christ" by Lee Stroble and the second is "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" by Josh McDowell.
Did you read any books about how Christianity is cobbled together from tales of pagan religions? What about how the inconsistencies between the Bible and what we know from archiology? Based on a recommendation I read a book similar to the ones you mentioned where it tried to "prove" Jesus and it was so full of obvious logic problems it was not worth finishing.
It is interesting to hear you speak of people of Faith being in fear of mortality when it is those of Faith who are the ones that go through life living without a fear of death or mortality. The meaning of life is settled and the promise of a life beyond this one is one of the basis of Faith.
It is the Atheist that lives in constant fear because even believing that there is not a life or a judgment. Two things always will weigh on them, that is absent in the life of a person of Faith. The first is time. If a person believes that their existence only is translated into the time that their body's function on Earth then it is the clock, the calendar, and each year on the anniversary of their birth that it is drilled into them that their limited time is ticking away. Like a train coming down the tracks that they can not avoid. Fear that their lives might never have purpose or substance is the fear they live with.
The second fear is Pascal screaming in their ears. The constant fear of what if there is is something that they will have to answer too. Maybe, it is a kin to a fear in a Faithful if he or she has the relationship with God or Gods that is correct (religions)... but at least it is a Faith that something is out there so there is not the same level of fear we witness here from some Atheist and the ones that scream the most probably have more fear than the others.
“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”
...and these are the ones you are trying to tell yourself n8, are living in fear.
Heal thine self and get back to us. :)
Dag- yeah,right. Proof, bible, and truth all in the same sentence? Lol! Funny.
Lee Strobel's books are written for people who want justifications for their pre-existing beliefs. They're the same horribly fallacious arguments that theists parrot regularly.
Pastapharian, I leave you with the same challenge I left n8263 – read the books and honestly examine the evidence for the Bible.
>>>"...that theists parrot regularly."
n8 has been cutting and pasting this same post for a few weeks now.
Since he is parroting a belief, would that reason that Atheist also "parrot" statements over and over. Or are we of Faith need to believe that the hundredth person on a thread/article that says that there is no "God" is original in his or her thoughts and beliefs and no Atheist has ever said that before?
Mike V, ask yourself "Why would two atheists who set out to prove the Bible was false come to the conclusion that the Bible is true?" It doesn't make sense that they would.
@Mark, has it occured to you you have that faith because without it you are afraid of mortality? You quote scripture assuring you not to fear death because you are afraid. You are making my point.
I can not speak for other non-believers but I can accept what I do not know. Maybe life goes on and maybe it does not, but what ever happens will not change by lying to myself.
Pascal's Wager is totally irrational. Why would a non-believer fear your made up god any more than you fear Allah?
It sounds like you are either projecting your own fears or rationalizing that what religion provides for you must be what "non-believers" lack. You basically validate what the original comment says with your comments on atheists fearing death, although I wouldn't agree that it applies to all believers. Let's examine some possibilities for why you think this? You either have numerous atheist friends that have confided this to you which is highly unlikely and wouldn't statistically justify your conclusion being applied to a whole, or you are simply verbalizing what your life would be without a God. To make a sweeping statement that the atheist fears death and the consequences of being wrong (I'm guessing you are referring to hellfire/brimstone, etc) is completely ignorant. Not going to attack here, but generalizations about groups are generally wrong.
You don't have to make it resonate with your own beliefs (because quite frankly you can't), but you have to accept that there are others out there that live life every day and enjoy it for how they see it. They don't know when death will come, but they live every day trying to make the world a better place, to love their family and raise their children in accordance with their own beliefs. They can be atheist, agnostic, Hindu – it doesn't matter. People find a source of life or inspiration. You don't have to agree with it or even understand it – but to say that a lack of God equates to fear is just a manifestation of your own belief.
I'm not going to argue that atheists are right or wrong. My main point is to have you realize that you may have your impression or belief of what an atheist's life must entail. Just step outside of your box for a moment and realize that being atheist doesn't imply a fear of death or the unknown. While you are obviously uncomfortable with the notion, there are rational people out there that believe that their existence is only this life and that when they die they go into the ground and that what they accomplished in life will be their lasting legacy. And for many of us, that's a perfect reason to live every day to the fullest.
I will pray for all of you who don't believe. God is our savior and i will ask for your forgiveness just as Jesus ask for the the forgiveness of the men who crucified him. For the way is narrow to heaven and WIDE is the gates of hell.
Please don't pray for me. Because I don't care about you one bit :)
Instead, please pray for all the HYPOCRITE Christian adulterers who divorce and remarry. There's far more of them than there are gays.
Dear Jesus: please assist your followers with their grammar when they think they are making an intelligent and/or effective point. It does not help their cause at all
Ummm, there's no magic sky fairy listening to your pointless prayers. Go use your hands for something constructive.
Observer, pray for us all because, as the Bible correctly points out, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." No Christian is perfect and all will continue to commit sins to some degree because they are human beings. The key mistake you are making is that you are condemning the Bible because flawed human beings are not living according to Biblical teachings. Just because a doctor injures a patient because he fails to follow valid surgical principles doesn't mean the principles are invalid. If a respiratory therapist smokes like a chimney does that invalidate the principle that smoking is hazardous to people's health?
lol sandy will not pray for anyone for that reason ... that's a christian's way of justifying gossip, passive aggressiveness, and any other feeling/act he or she is told not to feel/do but proceeds with anyway. In my 18 years as a southern baptist i saw almost everyone at one point say "i will pray for him/her to lead him/her back to Jesus" or something of the like and then leave to go shop and eat on sunday, plow through a pork dinner, cheat on partners, flip people off in traffic and participate in just utter greed and malice. I won't pray for you Sandy, but I hope you find a better way to manage your disagreements with others in order to include a little more intelligence and effort. Pray for yourself and your family.
I will pray as well, and mention each one by name please Sandy. Thanks
Another day on QNN. Speaking of gay, why can't CNN get a real priest to write an opinion piece, instead of this obvious fruitcake?
No Catholic priest are real .vow not to be with a woman Gods best creation thank you forever in your dept
Right! Every person they get to write an article on here is always from the same viewpoint.
Same reason that they had a person of Faith, who was also Christopher Hitchen's friend, write a article.
Anything that will cause conflict is worthy for CNN to put up.
With regard to scripture Timothy 2:12 `Women have a role in God's assembly. Perhaps Paul did preach that women should not preach during assembly, but that doesn't prevent women from being able to participate as part of the believing congregation in the body of Christ and being contributors and being in the Kingdom of God. And FYI, if you believe that you are going to shut me up on a forum with your cherry picking of scripture and applying it to me as a female, you're sadly misinformed. Also, I don't attend church, so again, your discussion is off base in that regard as well. I'd say you're not advancing the ball on this one, so I guess I'm done here. But thanks for playing nonetheless. Have a good night.
Your rebuttal does not escape you of the fact that you are dumb as a box of rocks....please don't have children. We don't need any more people like you...
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