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Your Take: Rebuttals to rethinking the Bible on homosexuality
What does the Bible really say about homosexuality? Readers responded to a professor's views on the issue.
May 17th, 2012
02:10 PM ET

Your Take: Rebuttals to rethinking the Bible on homosexuality

The Bible clearly condemns homosexuality - and, by extension, same-sex marriage - right?

A guest "My Take" post we ran this week from a college psychology professor who has a background in religion (he was ordained a Roman Catholic priest, for instance) challenged that conventional wisdom.

The professor, Daniel A. Helminiak, argues that foes of same-sex marriage have assigned modern, ethics-laden meanings to biblical passages on homosexuality to make it seem like the Bible unequivocally condemns it. In fact, Helminiak proposes, the original meanings of such passages about gays are at the very least ambiguous.

The piece has generated an avalanche of response: 10,000 Facebook shares, 6,000 comments, 200 tweets and a couple of blog posts.  Giving the other side its say, here's a rebuttal roundup of critical reactions from across the Internet:

Kevin DeYoung, a conservative Christian blogger, calls Helminiak's piece "amazing for including so many bad arguments in so little space." DeYoung, who leads a Reformed Church in Michigan, challenges Helminiak's argument that the biblical tale of Sodom and Gomorrah doesn't condemn homosexuality per se.

"Jude 7 states that Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities 'indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire,' " DeYoung writes.

"Even the NRSV, translation of choice for the mainline (and the version Helminiak seems to be using), says 'pursued unnatural lust,' ” he continues, referring to the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

"Clearly, the sins of Sodom lived in infamy not simply because of violent aggression or the lack of hospitality, but because men pursued sex with other men."

DeYoung also takes issue with our guest blogger's argument that the Greek term the New Testament writer Paul uses when describing homosexuality, para physin, has been misconstrued by modern translators to mean "unnatural." Helminiak says that the original term does not contain ethical judgment and should be translated instead as "atypical" or "unusual."

Absurd, says DeYoung. "We know Paul considered same-sex intercourse an ethical violation, and not simply something uncommon. ... (N)otice what Paul goes on to say: 'Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error' (NRSV)."

DeYoung writes, "When you read the whole verse, Helminiak’s 'nonethical' argument becomes implausible. Paul thought homosexuality not just unusual, but wrong, a sinful error deserving of a 'due penalty.' '"

On Facebook, Helminiak’s piece, "My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality," provoked a mix of positive and negative response. Some of the latter was very, very negative.

"The following article appeared on the front page of CNN. ... I was so grieved and troubled, I had to respond to the writer," Vince Smith wrote on his Facebook page Thursday. "This is what is most tragic and terrifying about beliefs on homosexuality in this nation.

"When you take Scripture and twist it to 'reinterpet' what it means, and then teach others, you are literally playing with fire ... eternal fire," Smith continued. "I pray that The Lord has mercy on Mr. Helminiak."

Readers' comments on the piece included much criticism, too (although there was plenty of support for Helminiak’s argument).

"Daniel's argument misses the glaringly obvious condemnation of gay sex in the Bible," writes a commenter named Mike Blackadder. "Catholics believe it is a mortal sin when it is premarital, masturbatory, and when we deny the possibility of conceiving children (i.e., through the use of contraceptives).

"Unfortunately, the faith suggests that gay sex falls under the same category as these others and if we interpret differently for gays, then we must accept a new interpretation of these other acts for the same reason," Blackadder writes. "The corollary is that if your faith accepts hetero impurities (such as contraceptives or [masturbation]) but condemns gays, then you may be rightfully accused of hypocrisy."

Many commenters avoided quibbling with Helminiak’s logic, instead taking aim at the piece's very existence.

"Why can't gays leave other people's sacred things alone?" asks a commenter named iqueue120. "Instead of redefining 'marriage,' just call your pervert juncture 'pirripipirripi.' We will grant you and your 'pirripipirripi-other' all the 'rights' that you want.

"You can write your own sacred book, call it, for instance, 'Pirripipirripible,' and make it teach how awesome is 'pirripipirripi,'" this commenter continues. "... All we ask in exchange is that you leave 'marriage' and 'Holy Bible' as they are."

On Twitter, most RTs, or retweets, endorsed the piece, but not all. "Another pastor,"  tweeted @BarbRoyal "trying to pretend the ugly parts out of the Xtian (Christian) bible. ..."

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bible • Comments • Gay marriage

soundoff (3,580 Responses)
  1. Brian

    I'm a Christian. If I'm wrong about God what have I lost? If you're wrong... what will you loose?

    May 18, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • sam stone

      Pascal's Wager is weak.

      If you believe in the wrong God, you are as bad off as you imply non-believers are with yours.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:23 am |
    • MASSIVE BALLS

      Well, the difference here, and it's factual, is that Atheists aren't wrong. There. Now that we've settled that, we can move onto more important subjects than religion. Such as breakfast. I'm starving.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • sweebach

      Brian, I think that makes some sense, but it seems you would be making a case before God that you just want to play it safe . . . what if we seek truth ever how dangerous it may seem? . . .

      May 18, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • MASSIVE BALLS

      On the mean streets of Kansas, the word they'd use for Brian here in this case would be "pansy."

      May 18, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • MASSIVE BALLS

      And for the record, I've never stepped foot in Kansas. I've just heard that the state is full of hardcore, gang member thugmasters of the highest toughness and shit.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:31 am |
  2. J Smith

    I am a gay Christian. and the crazy right wngers continue to believe what they want to believe. Religion really makes things so much more complicated than it really needs to be. Man has their own opinion and they turn it into religion. Catholics, Baptists, Mormons, etc. etc. etc ..etc. Its all because one man said "hmmm i think the Bible means this..." and POOOF! you have a religion. God didn't want it to be this complicated. I know He loves me, I know i'm not worthy. Doesn't mean I'm going to Hell because I'm gay. Too many hypercritical people out there

    May 18, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • MASSIVE BALLS

      Who cares if you're gay? I'm hetero. Now that we've announced our preference for bangbuddies, let's move on to things that actually matter. Like killing insects and eating blocks of cheese.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • sweebach

      well said . . . you are brave

      May 18, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • sweebach

      hmmmm . . . i see that quote at Genesis 2:24 . . . Nick where do you find Jesus saying that?

      May 18, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  3. maximusvad

    If a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir. (MARK 12:18-27)

    May 18, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  4. sweebach

    I wish Christianity were about Jesus' teachings . . .you would think . . .

    May 18, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • Nick

      I'm fine with that, as long as we include His teaching that "a man shall leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh"

      May 18, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • sweebach

      good point . . . of course this makes single men as guilty as gays, does it not? . . . this is a great quote, but it does require some consideration . . . thanks, will give it more thought . . .

      May 18, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • sweebach

      hmmmm . . . i see that quote at Genesis 2:24 . . . Nick where do you find Jesus saying that?

      May 18, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • sweebach

      Nick, OK I see in Matthew and Mark . . . he also says there it is adultery for someone to divorce and remarry, yet the law permits it . . . if we are following the Bible, we should also outlaw divorced people from remarrying? . . . it seems so

      May 18, 2012 at 8:43 am |
  5. Frank Cardenas

    Any discussion about the Bible or even Jesus teachings always goes around in circles. I read that there are 38,000 Christian sects. That means 38,000 ways in which people can't agree. I find it dishonorable to Jesus for Christians to quote Paul as if he is a greater authority than Jesus. Paul was a religious nut, Jesus was not.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • Morons Dismiss Things Based On Face Value

      NO S=H=I=T?

      May 18, 2012 at 8:13 am |
  6. across12

    Now, let's not twist the words in the bible to make room for our weakness. The book is clear on it.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:09 am |
    • scatheist

      Should we stone unfaithful women?

      May 18, 2012 at 8:10 am |
    • sam stone

      How about disobedient children? How do we deal with them?

      May 18, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • Primewonk

      When do we start forcing young unengaged virgins who are ràped to marry their ràpists?

      Who will be in charge of checking brides on their wedding night for an intact hymen?

      May 18, 2012 at 8:42 am |
  7. pervert alert

    The world would be a better and safer place without qu-eers.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • rae

      So by 'safer' are you saying that gay people commit more crime or have more of a detrimental effect on pollution, overpopulation, or the other issues that indanger our world? And by better, do you mean that no one in the gay population has in no way made a contribution to our society? Or are you saying that somehow their presence takes away from the life of a straight person?

      May 18, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • Ha!

      Spoken like a true American Christian. lmao

      May 18, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • pervert alert

      Children would be safer without predatory qu-eers spreading their "lifestyle".

      May 18, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • Kevin

      And here I though the only people that straight, white, conservative guys feared were blacks ... my bad!

      May 18, 2012 at 8:41 am |
  8. LearningaboutJesus

    Some of you may not remember him, but he captured my thoughts exactly:
    "Everyday, people are straying away from The Church and going back to God."–Lenny Bruce

    May 18, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  9. mark

    You see Jesus say anything about this subject? We assume Paul was a direct mouthpiece for the Almighty. Paul had his own opinions about a lot of things and wrote about them. There are no "red letters" on the writings of Paul.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:02 am |
    • sweebach

      I like the red letters . . .

      May 18, 2012 at 8:06 am |
  10. sweebach

    Summary of discussion so far:
    "You are going to hell for not believing the Bible"
    "You are stupid for believing the Bible"

    May 18, 2012 at 8:01 am |
  11. RTuch

    Who cares what the bible says?
    It's a book.
    Get over it and think for yourselves.
    Period.

    May 18, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • Teri

      Sure and using your logic, why go to school at all. We can all just think for ourselves. Duh!

      May 18, 2012 at 8:26 am |
  12. Jesus, not Paul

    Prayeworks, let's talk about judgement'; Do you remember the Lords words about judgement ? Are you free? No sins... not even a tiny one? Think.

    May 18, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      Sin free here

      May 18, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  13. The TRUTH

    Travolta framed as SCAPEGOAT by mormon temple again in collusion with the vatican! Scientology centers are all safehouses for gay men and are the target of LDS oppression. Please READ and wake up!

    http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2012/05/17/john-travolta-accused-trying-to-grope-late-grease-co-star-jeff-conaway/?intcmp=features

    May 18, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      Please he gay

      May 18, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • Morons Dismiss Things Based On Face Value

      Travolta sips the C=O=C=K=J=U=I=C=E

      May 18, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    May 18, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • rae

      Just curious, what mental or physical disease does Atheism cause to children or other living things?

      May 18, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • just sayin

      Spiritual and physical death. God bless

      May 18, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • Oakspar

      A bit of jerkish stupidity. The correct responce for atheism would be disinterest or cold cultural study. Passioned, emotional, anti-religious statements by atheist (at least the ones who post online) are clear, utter hypocrites. There may be a group of "true" atheist out there, but I will likely never know them because they would never bother to mention it to others.

      The proslytizing atheist isn't a true atheist at all – he is the theist being naughty and denying his own deepseated belief in the supernatural by trying to get as many others to be naughty with him. He is like the teen who brings pot to the party and is very eager to share so that he doesn't have to feel as guilty when everyone is doing it.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  15. anon-i-mouse

    Most people on this planet do not believe the Bible (Christians are not a majority on this planet) so it seems completely irrelevant how one wants to interpret it. Let people live how they want as long as they are not hurting anyone else. Keep your religion out of my life and I'll keep mine out of yours.

    May 18, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • MASSIVE BALLS

      It is a fair, accurate and factual assertion that christians are complete morons.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  16. maximusvad

    Science flies us to the moon. Religion flies us into buildings.

    May 18, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • amorphotograph

      Science dropped bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, it also causes countless natural disasters that kill millions, religion strives to stop world hunger. False logic can be used to prove anything . . .

      May 18, 2012 at 8:07 am |
    • KMO

      Well said.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:10 am |
  17. Woody

    Book written by people who still thought the world was flat and did not scientifically understand earthquakes and the weather as we do today . Can you imagine the people that wrote the stories in the bible seeing a Jet, car, plane,train today ! We are just the reverse today as we need to hold on to something . The problem is we have nothing to hold onto and when we are taught to hold onto something that is not there . We are doomed to fall !

    May 18, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • usastillgr8t

      The Bible says that the world is round in more than one place 🙂

      May 18, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • maximusvad

      IIf a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir. (MARK 12:18-27) Really ? You find this stuff ok ?

      May 18, 2012 at 8:14 am |
    • Primewonk

      Round is two dimensional. A circle. The bible refers to the earth as a circle, not a sphere.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  18. Lisa

    This "God" everyone is so either 1. Following or 2. Can't stand.... is annoyingly contradictory and confusing to me. If there is a God, he willl hear MY wrath some day at how he treats people. Crappy God y'all follow, can't be bothered to drop by personally to lay down the law, relies on a bunch of people, some good, some not, to spread his questionable word.

    May 18, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      God never asked man to say a word for him you've been misled

      May 18, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • Jahoobie

      Lisa...I'm not overly religious, but God DOES come down and speak to people...have you ever been so upset, but all of a sudden felt an overwhelming sense of calm? Have you ever witnessed something that makes no sense, an accident no one should have walked away from? Have you ever just had everythign fall into place, at the right moment in your life? Now, many will chalk it up to luck, or coincidence...I happen to think there is something more to it than that. All I ask is that you take a moment and think about it for a second...not everything can just be explained away. It isn't God that hates people, it's people who use religion for evil purposes...and that's free will. Like I said, I'm not overly religious, don't follow one faith or another, but I believe there is something bigger than me out there, and I've felt it's presence in my life.

      May 18, 2012 at 8:04 am |
  19. gary

    god = pretend, bible = myth, lengend from a primitive land and primitive land.

    May 18, 2012 at 7:39 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      Why do college trained engineers say we can't build primitive pyramid like the one in Giza. EGYPT is no myth. Neither were Roman atrocities,but the guys did wear dresses

      May 18, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      Talking snakes evolved into talking birds.see parrot in the rain forest(tropical jungle)if they went extinct people 100 years from now would say that was a fairytale.just saying sometimes truth stranger than fiction ask a scientist

      May 18, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • Obvious Answers Will Blow You.......... AWAY - Real Hard

      Because the people who built the pyramids weren't college trained engineers maybe? It never seems to occur to people that maybe there's nothing really that complicated about the process. I mean, we know for the most part how it was done. It's been studied for a long effin time. There's nothing really that special about it. Just my opinion. Based on my large..... stature.

      May 18, 2012 at 7:46 am |
    • BamaDaniel

      How was it built? All I've seen are theories about it

      May 18, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • Jahoobie

      are the actual teachings of love, forgiveness, patience, acceptance, honor all a myth? If you remove the invisible man in the clouds (as people who want to end religion put it), the teachings and stories of helping your fellow man should still be listened to...

      May 18, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  20. DragonSlayer Lights Your Fire

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3X5f3gY4iw&w=640&h=360]

    May 18, 2012 at 7:39 am |
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About this blog

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.