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.
. . .your citations and ethical arguments would favor polygamy as well. I think the gay marriage debate has run its course. The next debate in America will be polygamy.
Romney's religion (mormon) supports it.
"The next debate in America will be polygamy"
Based on the cherry picking of the scriptures that Christians do they should support it since it is in the bible.
The Old Testament has no praise for any form of marriage except polygamy.
The New Testament recommends that Christians avoid marriage.
Most people understand that a marriage is between a man and a woman.
Your point being....?
Marriage is a word made by man, the concept was made by man. Won't don't you people understand?
"Most people understand that a marriage is between a man and a woman."
No they don't because it's now legal for gays to marry in many states and in other countries, only prejudice people say that kind of thing to justify their hatred towards this minority group.
Only the ones you know.
@YeahRight (or is it OD'y?)
Well, Hi! there OD'y! How ya been? Really smacking the boards here this morning. Really, you shouldn't be so rude to other folks and their comments..... Are you a good neighbor? You know what I believe: Marriage is between a male and female. God said so. I stand on that.
"Really smacking the boards here this morning. Really, you shouldn't be so rude to other folks and their comments..... Are you a good neighbor? You know what I believe: Marriage is between a male and female. God said so. I stand on that."
Marriage is a civil right which is why the gay community will eventually win. They have the experts behind them. People like you also fought to deny interracial marriage and they were proven wrong in the prejudice and bigotry. The people who wrote your bible didn't understand the what we now know about gays today, they wrote from their own limited "straight" point of view. Part of reading comprehension 101 is putting the scriptures into historical context. DUH!
Since I believe that God already has the winning combo in place (male + female) I don't see where you "win" anything...
Pass the popcorn and take a back seat OD'y, God's driving.
It is unnatural, clearly, but how is it "wrong" or a "sin" if both people consent? It's also unnatural for a female to take a c*ck in the @$$ or even mouth. But yet that is not frowned upon?
Please do tell me what is unnatural? I'll tell you one thing, god is unnatural.
And yet 1500 animal species exhibit gay behavior naturally...explain that one?
You guys totally missed my point. I didn't say it was wrong. I really don't care. I've even had a 3some with my bf and another girl haha. But it's still about as unnatural as my suntan and hair colour. Lots of things are "unnatural" this day in age. My point was, who cares?
@lanfear – You really sound like a class act, congratulations.
Congratulations "Truth" for judging someone based on a paragraph, lol. you must have no friends because you're so busy judging everyone.
Of course it is frowned upon. Mortal sin. There is such a thing as impure s-e-x acts among heteros. This is the only valid argument for why gay s-e-x is also a sin. Other examples of mortal sin: masterbtn, premarital s-e-x, use of contraceptives (Catholic), etc.
Those are only mortal sins if your cult defines them as such.
Hey, who is "moderating" the comments here? Aren't we supposed to be having a "respectful discussion of ideas and beliefs?" I have counted a dozen offensive terms from obviously immature, ignorant people. What has happened to all of us? People should be able to disagree with one another, without being disrespected. I don't agree with this gentleman at all, but sometimes a certain point can lead to a bigger discussion–and truth will eventually come out. Bad behavior, hatred of others is wrong whether it comes from a Christian or a non-Christian. The only difference is that a believer has hope–God is there to help him get through life and change him–and forgive him. As He showed us compassion, we are supposed to pass that on to others–God is their ultimate judge–not us.
"The only difference is that a believer has hope–God is there to help him get through life and change him–and forgive him."
The experts have proven that gays can't change who they are and it's harmful to even try.
I would bet my precious life that if you weren't indoctrinated into the world of make believe you would see things differently.
I am not a believer, but to say I don't have hope is completely missing the mark. I have faith alright, in MYSELF. That's where it counts. I have achieved great things in this life, and that's from beliving in myself. I treat people with respect and the dignity they deserve. And when I die, all that matters to me is that I've lived a good life and left a good legacy for my family/kids. Why should I care about anything else at that point? I will be dead! The purpose of life is to LIVE, nothing more, nothing less.
Debbie, just ask yourself this question; What does God have against someone that doesn't believe in Him? Especially if that person lives a similar life compared to the believer? Why is God so intent on being worshipped, but doesn't prove His exsistence? Then holds it against those people that don't believe?
Freaking Christians !!! All you people are doing is taking your own personal prejudices, hatred and opinions and DESPERATELY combing through the Bible trying to force something in it to conform to YOUR personal dogma... Sad and pathetic, the whole lot of you.
The Bible is a MAN MADE book, full of morality tales and fables and nothing more. It was written to appease a King and to conform to HIS personal interpretation of what HE thought the Bible meant (That would be King James VI of Scotland and I of England). The people who translated the Bible for King James did so with the knowledge that if they didn't translate it to the King's satisfaction, they could be put to death in many horrible ways; so they made sure it said what the King wanted it to say.
Read some history of the book you dullards pretend to follow and actually LEARN something about it. A recent study showed that Atheists know far more about the Bible than Christians by the way; that HAS to tell you something about the average intelligence level of those sheep that blindly believe whatever is in that book of nonsense.
"My Take" is exactly what I would expect an opinion like this to be. Everyone has a "my take" on an issue like this. I suppose "my take" on Jesus saying “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19; Mark 12:31); could be totally misconstrued to mean "Hate your neighbor as yourself". At least if you follow this author's logic. "How inverted these values have become! " is exactly what was warned about in the Bible itself in Isaiah 5:20. Read it and see how this author has just fullfilled what the Bible warned us about! the Bible wins again!
Leviticus 20:13 KJV "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination..." pretty cut and clear.
The minute you jerks start ALSO trying to legislate to remove civil rights of adulterers and all the other sinful crap in the bible, we can talk. Until then, you're just cherry picking bigots.
Hey genius, have you read the rest of Leviticus, because it says a lot more that you or any decent human being would not agree with today. All you Bible thumpers are the same. You are what is called a Buffet Christian. You pick and choose what you like and ignore the rest. You guys are not in the least bit way consistent. Can you really go on lying to yourself that you are not a hypocrite?
No it's not. So you want to use the holiness code that doesn't apply to Christians today, then don't forget to force women to marry their rapist don't eat shellfish, don't wear clothes made of different fibers, etc...etc... Only prejudice bigoted Christians cherry pick that scripture while ignoring all the rest of it. So here's a list of other abomination to make sure you block peoples civil rights who do these things. – Unclean things (Lev. 7:21) ; Cheating (Mic. 6:10) ; A proud look (Pro. 6:16-17) ; A lying tongue (Pro. 6:17; 12:22) ; Hands that shed innocent blood ((Pro. 6:17) ; A wicked scheming heart (Pro. 6:18) ; A false witness that speaks lies (Pro. 6:19) ; A sower of discord (Pro. 6:19) ; A false balance or scale (Pro. 11:1) ; The proud of heart (Pro. 16:5) ; Justifying the wicked (Pro. 17:15) ; Condemning the just (Pro. 17:15) ; Refusing to hear the law (Pro. 28:9) ; Wearing clothes of the opposite sex (Dt. 22:5) Re-marriage of former companions (Dt. 24:1-4) ; Cheating others (Dt. 25:13-16) ; Making images/idols (Dt. 27:15) ; Eating unclean things (Isa. 66:17) ; Robbery (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Murder (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Adultery (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Oppression of others, particularly the poor or vulnerable (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Violence (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Breaking vows (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Lending with interest to a brother (Ezek. 18: 6-13) ; Lying with a menstruous woman (Ezek. 18: 6-13).
Trying to use reason with these guys is like farting in a hurricane.
"Trying to use reason with these guys is like farting in a hurricane."
Or worse farting in a bean factory. LOL!
They always run back to this garbage, and ignore the rest.
Fell Off My Chair and Dies Laughing
that one was classic
Ho-mose-xuality in the 21st century:
ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS–-–>>>>
"Abrahamics" believe that their god created all of us and of course that includes the g-ay members of the human race. Also, those who have studied ho-mo-se-xuality have determined that there is no choice involved therefore ga-ys are ga-y because god made them that way.
o The Royal College of Psy-chiatrists stated in 2007:
“ Despite almost a century of psy-choanalytic and psy-chological speculation, there is no substantive evidence to support the suggestion that the nature of parenting or early childhood experiences play any role in the formation of a person’s fundamental heteros-exual or hom-ose-xual orientation. It would appear that s-exual orientation is biological in nature, determined by a complex interplay of ge-netic factors and the early ut-erine environment. Se-xual orientation is therefore not a choice. "
"Garcia-Falgueras and Swaab state in the abstract of their 2010 study, "The fe-tal brain develops during the intraut-erine period in the male direction through a direct action of tes-tosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hor-mone surge. In this way, our gender identi-ty (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and s-exual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender ident–ity or s-exual orientation."[8
See also the Philadelphia Inquirer review “Gay Gene, Deconstructed”, 12/12/2011. Said review addresses the following “How do genes associated with ho-mose-xuality avoid being weeded out by Darwinian evolution?”
Of course, those gays who belong to Abrahamic religions supposedly abide by the rules of no adu-ltery or for-nication allowed.
And because of basic biology differences said monogamous ventures should always be called same-se-x unions not same-se-x marriages.
From below, on top, backwards, forwards, from this side of the Moon and from the other side too, ga-y s-exual activity is still mutual mas-turbation caused by one or more complex s-exual differences. Some differences are visually obvious in for example the complex maleness of DeGeneres, Billy Jean King and Rosie O'Donnell.
If you're going to take a strict stance today on the morality, ethics, and practices worded in the Bible, then you need to live the same way biblical society did 2000+ years ago. Culture evolves just like nature.
If blacks really wanted to embrace their heritage they'd be speaking Oxford English instead of ebonics. Lazy pieces of garbage. Every last one of them.
Wrong article, racist tool!
9 minutes I can't have back
You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'; but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. (NAS, Matthew 5:27-28)
Divorce should be outlawed!!!!
I can't accept that one. It attempts to repress natural biological impulses.
The so called faithful should be trying to keep marriages together, and resolving the divorce issue, rather than deciding who can and can't marry.
This news is terrible. For it severely cuts down on my jack off material!
What ever happened to "We are all God's children".
but we are all gods children that dont mean were obidient
I'm a child of my parents....God had nothing to do with it.
Because fantasy doesn't affect reality.
Too busy fighting over whos god.
I provide solid medical evidence, and still the liberals deny deny deny. Typical. There's no pleasing a liberal. You can hold a cup of water up to a liberal's face and they'll claim it's poisoned milk. This is why you can't prove anything to these people. No matter what it is you say, they claim they know everything. Then they get angry if you provide REAL evidence because it doesn't suit their demands.
dude that didnt make no sense did u read type before typing?
Are you pointlessly ranting at someone in particular?
they claim they know everything
View page 81 before making stupid comments again. Thank you.
"Then they get angry if you provide REAL evidence because it doesn't suit their demands."
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured.”
"that didnt make no sense"
so that means it made sense to you. gotcha
Post/reply to the right spot before posting stupid nonsense again. Fool.
LMAO – You're proof is about anal sex and not about the real facts about gay people. By the way moron, straights have that same kind of se</bx so you can apply that to both groups! Duh!
Thanks for reposting the same useless psychiatric nonsense. What I posted had nothing to do with mentality. I never said anything about the mental state of gays. I see you didn't bother to read the article I posted. Good for you. Thank YOU for proving my point. Dismissed.
sam, I posted it on this page because the reply would have gone ignored. Thanks for your arrogance. I'll be sure to keep it in mind for future reference.
I'm just kidding. You've got nothing valuable to say. Bye bye then!
It's adorable when an arrogant, dismissive douche calls others arrogant.
And you had to make a whole new post to make sure you were seen, and not ignored. Yeah, that's special.
The only thing you have provided was your opinion.
"I see you didn't bother to read the article I posted. Good for you. Thank YOU for proving my point. Dismissed."
You're stupidity is showing, straights have the same kind of sex. Duh!
There have been a number of Christianities, not one.
During his lifetime, Jesus imagined that God would destroy the monarchy, expel the Romans, and rule Israel. That would be heaven. Jesus was just a guy, not a god. Jesus was certainly not a Christian. He was a Jew and never anticipated founding a new, non-Jewish belief system. Christianity was invented after his death.
After Jesus was executed, his followers invented Christianity 1.0, which consisted of waiting for Jesus to return real soon. The Christian teaching of love and kindness was an interim teaching just to keep early Christians cooperating with each other until Jesus returned – something every Christian expected to happen in his or her lifetime. There was no Bible.
After three centures of Jesus being a no-show, Constantine invented Christianity 2.0, which consisted of being a member of the Catholic Church and going to heaven when you died. Faithful Catholics marched from cradle to coffin under the watchful and benevolent eye of the Church’s leadership. Constantine ordered the assembly of a Bible.
Martin Luther invented Christianity 3.0, with the Protestant Reformation, which consisted of being a good person and doing good deeds so as to earn your membership in Heaven. Protestantism was a big improvement over Christianity 2.0.
Modern televangelists and Evangelicals have invented Christianity 4.0, which consists of little more than dialing a toll-free number with one hand while holding your Master Card in the other in order to live forever. Most modern con-artists carry a Bible in one hand.
@ El Flaco
Manmade and man based churches and/or temples etc, are not the "True Churches" for our bodies are the temples and buildings and Kingdoms of God and God's kingdomly kinds! All Life was and is and ver will be made up of Godly Kingdom Domains! For the "Force" truly is within/inside us all!
That was near perfect.
The only thing i would add is Jesus did not die on the cross.
No, he was not ressurected, there are ancient manuscripts saying he died in Tibet,
the same place he learned his buddist teachings.
You wont hear that from the Vatican.
#1, This man needs to go back to school and really get in touch with what true exegesis and culture research is all about. #2, we have more people of hate that write in these remarks than anybody else. Its time for peopel to realize that when you hate other people and other beliefs, you are hating yourself. If you dont agree, just say you dont agree. No need to hate what others believe. All I know is, when Christ returns "every knee must bow and every tongue must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord"!
You said, "#1, This man needs to go back to school and really get in touch with what true exegesis and culture research is all about."
So, you are saying that your interpretation of your book of fables is the correct one?
You said, "#2, we have more people of hate that write in these remarks than anybody else."
Don't you just hate it when they do that? Why can't we just live, and let live, right? Nobody is forcing anyone to engage in homosexual acts against their will, so everyone is free to not participate. Why would we want to deny loving, consenting couples from expressing their love for each other?
You said, "All I know is, when Christ returns "every knee must bow and every tongue must confess that Jesus Christ is Lord"!"
Now you're just being silly.
Why would anybody bow to Jesus ?
How many times have I read on CNN now about people who KNOW that THEIR INTERPRETATION of the bible is the right one and that everyone else's is wrong? Hmmmmmm? And, BTW some of you people are awfully RUDE.
SHUT THE FUCK UP
This is hilarious. Where did they find this nut?
It doesn't matter what the bible says. The bible does not make the laws of the united states of america.
End of story.
The problem is that these religious nuts go out and vote and try to change the laws based on what their nutty book says – see North Carolina.
First off this dude just totally screwed up the bible..he left off certain parts of verses so therefore the verse losses some credit. but the REAL romans 1:26-27 reads "for this God gave them up(let them go) unto vile(Nasty Unholy)affectionns .For even women did change their natural use unto which is against nature.(Lesbians) and likewise of men leaving the NATURAL use of women, burned in lust(not passion) for one another men with men working that which is unseemly(perverted) and recieving in themselves recompence of their ERROR which was meet. EXTRA VS 28 says AND THEY DID NOT RETAIN GOD IN THIER KNOWLEDGE..God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which r not convient..
plus if u take off certain ingredients in your sandwich it wouldnt taste the same the bible is the same way
Looks like this priest forgot 2 scriptures that spells it out plainly. Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. Don't see how the bible is ho hum on the subject.I guess Daniel A. Helminiak needs to go back to seminary and study harder.
Good thing we're not a theocracy, then.
Leviticus 19:27, no haircuts.
Leviticus 11:8 no pork sandwiches, no pigskin footballs
Leviticus 19:19 no poly/cotton blends, no artificial fibers in your clothes
Mark 10:9 no divorce
Leviticus 11:10 No shellfish.
There are a great many restrictions in the bible we do not honor, which are more clearly translated and which are stronger prohibitions. The original was not written in english....
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.