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.
CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories
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.
Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter
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.
We are supposed to have a separation of church and state. That means keep your church out of the laws.
Or more simply "who are you a@%holes to tell me what goes into miine.
This man is simply selling books by making the Bible say what he wants it to say justifying popular world views that are not biblical.
His use of the New Testament is terrible. He mixes up the word love with se x.
People like him have come and gone.
So he's the same as every shyster who writes books that explain his opinion with a few scriptures and a little exegesis.. Big deal.
All you are doing is spewing nonsense so you can feel justified in your own prejudice towards this group. Nowhere in your bible does your god condemn the saved loving respectful relationship of a gay couple as we know and understand it today. Duh!
Kind of like the kings of England did when they commissioned translations to suit their needs, like King James.
Goodness! It's your conscience, I hate when everyone brings the Bible quotes into my face. Your conscience, take care of it. My conscience, I will do same for mine. Simple. I will face God for my sins, and mine only. Leave me and my soul alone. I will support Obama, I like what he has done, I had my reservations 4 years ago, but now they are gone. He is cool. But whatever YOUR conscience tells you, do it, not my problem, stop whining.
Amen! My thoughts as well.
This is a detestable and grotesque misinterpretation of the Word! I will be praying for this man!
And I'll call a psychiatrist for you. That's someone who's real and can actually help people
Interpretation is in the eye of the beholder
While you're at it, you might want to pray for forgiveness for judging and being a bigot!
Your time would be better spent growing a brain of your own.
the funny thing is, that's not your judgement to make :) religious people always forget that part.
And I will pray for you..
like the writer said: it is his take, not the LORDs. for the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
Speaking of fables, that's exactly what the bible is.
I thought I remembered some line to the effect of "Judge not, lest ye be judged." Is that still in there?
Everyone is completely missing the point and it is really very simple:
God knows all humans will sin if not in action then in heart.
God gave us his son to wash us clean of sin for those who accept him and repent.
The Bible says that a man lying with a man in the way a man lies with a woman is an abomination.
Adultery and lust, lies, slander, stealing, etc. are sinful.
So being gay will not send you to Hell.
Being gay without repentance and Jesus might.
The normalification of a sinful act is the Devil's tool.
Is it no wonder that Lady Gaga has horns?
I think you meant it is really very "simple-minded"
"The Bible says that a man lying with a man in the way a man lies with a woman is an abomination"
Don't you just love this stupid statement. Over and over again the brainwashed people use this scripture. Duh! Christians don't follow the Leviticus holiness code anymore. So are you also going to force women to marry their rapist too? Nowhere in your bible does your god condemn the saved loving respectful relationship of a gay couple as we know and understand it today.
Okay, so you sounded like a normal boring christian ranter, then you brought up Lady Gaga and horns. Try reading Ezekiel 28:12 Satan was the most beautiful creature of God. God reminds Satan in Ezekiel "You were... perfect in beauty. There was no flaw in the devil. he was something to behold and there is no indication in the bible that he changed his appearance after his great fall from grace. Again, another point for man screwing up biblical interpretations and stories.
The United States is NOT a Christian country – it is a secular country with "apparent" separation of church and state. Just because a majority of citizens are of a certain religion does not make it the mandated religion...unless you want to become a country like Afghanistan where you are required to be a certain religion. The majority of people in America are white – does that mean we should be against non-white rights?
So, if we're not one nation under God, then who are we under?
"Under God" was only added 50 years ago
Fill a dude's butt with concrete and he won't engage in this disgusting activity anymore.
What, you mean you're not killing gays like god commands you to in the bible?!?!
fill bath tube with water, hop in with plugged in toaster, meet your god! No more bigot! Win win for everyone.
When did I ever say I believed in the bible fuckin retard
You didn't Lawrence, but you're stupid as all fvck, so I just assumed.. Sorry.
... and crack those wrists, right? Dodo...
Retards make assumptions. Try thinking for a change jerkoff
We can get the concrete out of your skull cavity.
Fill your head with concrete and it won't be empty anymore.
Lawrence, what do you suggest be done with of age consenting hetrosexuals that engage in anal (or oral) sex?
Lawrence is just jealous that no woman will have him and no man will give in. That's why you have hands Lawrence and they make blow-up dolls for people in your situation, although given your mentality, I'm guessing you live on food stamps and can't afford it...so your hands will have to do.
well I guess they DO hook up internet to trailer parks now.
New International Version (©1984)
"'If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
Quoting from a made up book of fairy tales doesn't make you right.
Question – can you even quote another verse from Leviticus? Do you even KNOW any?
thanks for contributing the same LAME quote for the millionth time on the blog
the author is an example of misquoting the Bible... there is nothing new under the sun.... God will have a response for him at the day of judgement as his words in his book may cause others to fall.....
Fortune telling again? Not legit, and you know it.
well, obviously.. He disagreed with your assumptions, so he must be hell-bound.. The arrogance of christians is always so astounding.
Nowhere in your bible does your god condemn the saved loving respectful relationship of a gay couple. What your bible does condemn is male prostitution, idolatry and using sex to worship a pagan god. The experts have shown that being gay is not a mental illness, it's not a choice and it can't be voluntarily changed. You are choosing to be prejudice towards this group and that speaks volumes about who you are, you are nothing like your Christ.
The point is, it doesn't matter what the Bible says. No one's religious beliefs should come into play when we discuss equal legal rights for all citizens of the USA. You want gays to burn in hell, then believe in your religion to take care of them. But that doesn't make law. We created all of these laws to allow for the construct of marriage with regards to benefits and each person under the law has a right to them. Anything else is wrong. I don't give a damn about your god. These are my rights.
The only good thing to come out of the bible:
No, when you start taking the bible literally you start having problems. Why can't people, yourself included, be smart enough to take the positive lessons the bible offers but leave bull. The bible was written by MAN, so to put more stock into this book than anyother book written by man is foolish.
You're worse than any christian. I don't believe in the bible. I said that scripture was the only good thing to come out of that thing. Now shove your holier than thou attitude in your butt
Obvious troll is obvious.
I can think of a couple more.
1 Timothy 2:11-12? Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.
1 Timothy 5:23 No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for your stomach's sake and your frequent ailments.
Proverbs 31:6-7 Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
Sarah Palin is the only one who can heal and re-unify our country. In order to do that she must return to her motorhome and resume her cross country tour. She will have to visit cities and towns both large and small, taking care to speak to only those "real Americans", dispensing her sage advice and folksy, homespun common sense solutions. We can be a great nation again but we must all follow the "Palin Path".
Game Changers UNTIE! oops, I mean unite! lol
Thanks, but if I want to hear a fairy tale, I'll read the bible.
wow. so, this whole time the Bible has been cool with gays – give me a break. It's so funny how we twist everything (religion, psychology, sociology) to match our current social ideals.
Kinda like the kings of England did when they commissioned new versions to suit their purposes, right?
WOW – that was the most unscholarly and dishonest treatment of the Bible that I have ever actually taken time to read. Unbelievable... It is one thing to say, "I think the Bible is a bunch of *&^%$#." But to sit there and misinterpret something that is so clear – that is just proof that something inside sinful people (like myself) rises up to resist and excuse the truth of a book so attested to in human history – the Bible – God's Holy Word.
Amen. And nothing he says here is not new to the loony left in the High Church. What makes me so sad is that more and more Evangelicals hold to this as well.
Right, no one could ever mis-interpret anything in the bible, it's all so crystal clear. LOL!!!!!!!
"the Bible – God's Holy Word" – ok, but it was written by human beings. Edited by human beings. Had the individual books that comprise it selected by human beings. Had other equally relevant individual works left out by human beings, because those books didn't send the exact message the human beings wanted. And, it's continually revised by human beings. "God's word"?! By what possible standard? The hand of man is all over the bible, every word.
Oh please. You only say 'It's so clear' because bashing Gays with scripture doesn't affect you one bit – let's start talking about all those verses that affect YOUR rights in 21st century America, and you'll start the 'Taken out of context! Taken out of context! whine. Hypocrite.
"But to sit there and misinterpret something that is so clear"
Yeah it is – it's clear on male prostitution, idolatry and using sex to worship a pagan god. Nowhere in your bible does your god condemn the saved loving respectful relationship of a gay couple as we know and understand it today. Yup...real clear....LOL!
There are many things in the Hebrew scriptures which are mentioned as an "abomination," including the eating of shrimp and the mixing of different types of fibers for cloth. Dishonoring the sabbath is also a offense worthy of stoning according to the text. The Bible goes on to justify the keeping of slaves, polygamy, genocide, incest, and a host of other activiies we would deem unethical. Jesus commands the wealthy to sell all they own and give to the poor. What bothers me about religious fundamentalists, many of whom have probably never read the Scriptures, is that the pick and choose which Biblical decrees to follow and which to ignore. This, frankly, is hypocrisy. If you are going to take the Bible literally in some places figuratively in another, you are really on revealing your inner biases and bigotry. No one follows the Bible literally today, and for good reason; society would be in chaos, families destroyed, and the collapse of our economic system. The spirit of the rules and commandments were meant to help set "one apart" – that is, to strive to live a holy life in a world that too often turns a blind eye to the sacred. The Bible,and Jesus were clear: Even a gay couple, dining on shellfish and lobster, while wearing matching linen and wool blended jackets, and using their smart phone to track their stock portfolio, can still live a sacred life. A religious aesthetic, who lives in a cave praying for the abolition of gay marriage is clearly not living the sacred life, nor is he a true follower of Jesus. Matthew 23:28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
speak the truth- your intentions on what you have read are well taken. However to see those things there written as hypocrisy is due to a real lack of understanding. The Mosiac Laws are no longer in effect, they were to preserve the lineage of Jesus. Once Jesus was born they were no longer nessessary to set them apart and protect the blood line. Jesus made this apparent when he said "above all love God and neighbor". With these two laws one could realize and apply all of Gods requirements today. As far as slavery and the killing of people's one must have a deeper understanding as to what and why this was allowed. Slaves for one were not treated as most think of when they picture this. Many offered themselves up as slaves to repay debt and it worked to benefit both. Laws were established to protect slaves. As far as the killing, most of these were very cruel people, passing their own offspring into the fire. Many archeological finding show mass infant burial sites from child sacrifices. Also there deaths were only a temporary solution to preserving Jesus lineage. As God taught of a time when ALL will wake from memorial tombs and be given an opportunity to learn of his purpose. So their deaths is temporary at best. There simply no way for me to cover it all or for one to understand the greater picture of the bible or Gods purpose here. But lastly God has standerds and we must do our best to live by them, in this there is no Hypocracy!
WOW! Could not of said it better my self!
Excellent point. 'Christians' happily clobber Gays and Lesbians using scripture because it doesn't affect their secular rights one bit – but let's start talking about all the verses that DO affect their rights in 21st century America, and they'll start backpeddling like mad screaming 'Taken out of context! Taken out of context!' In the end, it's all about finding some 'other' to condemn, while leaving their OWN secular rights intact.
That doesn't answer the fundamental question. In a fight, who would win, Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy?
Are we forgetting that in the OT the rules were made in order for people to try and become holy enough so they could be with God but that Jesus came and taught that no one can follow rules and become sinless on their own. All that is required to be in a right relationship with God is the acceptance of Jesus as your savior...nothing mored is required. Nothing more.
Are we forgetting that the bible is a made up book?
Wouldn't an omniscient and omnipotent god already have known this? Seems like a no-brainer.
Why would your god be surprised that creatures he created to be sinful and evil, turn out to be sinful and evil?
You are going backward. We do not start out by bevinlieg every assertion, and then searching for evidence that some of them are wrong. Do you have compelling evidence that there's no such thing as mermaids? No, you just know that you've never seen a mermaid, and all the stories you've heard about mermaids seem easily explainable by phenomena you are familiar with. It makes the most sense to default to not bevinlieg in mermaids until you get some new evidence.I could provide you compelling evidence or arguments against many specific versions of God. Scriptures of different religions tend to make particular claims about reality and about the nature of God that we can then go check out, or that we can logically evaluate. But just as I can't provide any evidence against an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who spits heatless fire, I can't provide evidence against any kind of god whatsoever. I can just say well, that sounds pretty implausible to me. Show me some reason why I should believe it, and I will.
Why Did God Send the Flood? Please research and translate it with your next column.
"Why Did God Send the Flood? "
It had nothing to do with what we now know and understand about gays today. Now ask yourself why you blame gays for the floods? You're prejudice towards this groups speaks volumes about who you are, you are nothing like your Christ.
A world wide flood had been debunked numerous times over but then again so has your god.
Yeah Right: God sent the flood to irradiate the product of the unnatural union between wicked rebel angels and the daughters of men. The earth and mankind were both not designed for that purpose. Anything that acts contrary to the purpose for which it was designed will be removed.
God didn't send a flood. Rainclouds sent a flood.
You didn't happen to notice that 75% of the world is still covered with water did you???
"Anything that acts contrary to the purpose for which it was designed will be removed."
More lies to justify your prejudice mind set, nothing more.
It's actually a truth that we can see even in our own society today. By and large when members of society disobey the laws of said society they are removed. People have the right to live their life any way they choose but; when they choose to live a lifestyle that runs counter to natural law (ie. people are not purposed to kill one another, or steal, or commit heinous and unclean acts ...those that are not natural or normal, even if it appears or comes natural) they are removed from society. Most people know the difference between right and wrong and natural and unnatural. Most (not all by the majority) of men wear their hair short...why? because that the natural thing for men, the same way woman on the majority wear their hair long...it's natural law in it's simplest form. It is very frowned on in human society when people violate the natural law.
You have to look at the original translation to understand the true meaning:
כב וְאֶת-זָכָר–לֹא תִשְׁכַּב, מִשְׁכְּבֵי אִשָּׁה: תּוֹעֵבָה, הִוא.
Make sense now?
Lol, about as much sense as any of these bible bangers does.
Brent,Thank you for your kind and thoughtful cemmonts. I, too, understand the trepidation about writing about this issue. What you said needs to be said and you stated it well. I do not doubt your heart and your love. I, too, believe that we must never depart from the truth because God's creative Word does save, heal, and transform. What compelled me to write was my burden that we need to get this one right and it has to start somewhere. It really bothered me about the lesbian couple being turned away. I can only imagine what God might have had in store for them and for us if they had stayed and were afforded the opportunity to rightly encounter the Word and be in fellowship with believers who could love them in spite of their disorder. The possibility of transformation was lost and I am grieved by it. On a positive note, Dr. Mohler took a stab at this issue at the Convention and I have been following the cemmonts of others. I am hopeful that as time passes we will find what God would have us do and become. Jim
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.