May 15th, 2012
05:39 PM ET
My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality
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.
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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.
No...actually I work in healthcare where I see the religious people who pray be "miraculously healed" at the same rate as the people who don't pray. Kinda proves that it doesn't work
'at the same rate as the people who don't pray. Kinda proves that it doesn't work~'
They may not pray for themselves. But how do you know others aren't praying for them. You don't.
Are you retarded, it devoid of all logic?
And you don't know that God doesn't condone ho mo se xu ality just as much as He condones het er o se x uality. To claim that you do is a claim that you know the mind of God......which is, of course, heretical.
I doubt you are a doctor. Receptionist or Orderly?
Leigh2, before you assume, read the studies. Not the studies which are paid for by religious organizations (which promote bias), but read the studies who are attempting to find the truth. Prayer does not work. People who pray vs people who are complete atheists are healed at the same rate, win the lottery at the same rate, get jobs at the same rate, have the same rate of pregnancy complications....the list goes on and on. It has NO effect. But let's not point out the positive correlation between intelligence and not having faith....
Satan, I know you and your life is about to change.
There are different forms of love.
You can Agape everyone regardless of whatever but you can't be romantic, etc towards everyone. Herein lies the problem. Most gay activists and atheists and hatheists too assume that love is one emotion when it is more complex than that. Agape is ethical in nature.
But there is also nothing that says that eros cannot be between two men or two women.
And of course this is a tactic often done by one group that wants to attack another group, claiming that they can't truly love, This is often done to mobilize the troops, and to incite mobs. After all, if you convince the mob that a group are incapable of true love, or some other positive emotion of your culture, you just dehumanized them, and lessened any guilt when they're massacred.
The ultimate expression of love produces a fruit that can reproduce more fruit and not just photos and memories.
So does that mean a infertile couple, or a couple who meet in their later years when the female is past menopause, that these unions cannot produce true love?
Jesus paid for it all....lol....you haven't got paid yet, for that land for sale ? lol.... may GOD Bless you all !
We could learn a lot from the gays...like: (1) Marriage should be more about what is in your heart than what is between your legs. (2) Making a family should have more to do with uniting people in a loving, nurturing home rather than the ability to unite a sperm with an egg. (3) Those who reduce any type of love to a "genital" issue (as the religious right seems to be doing) are the most perverted of all.
God made life and created man in his image and man can make another human in his likeness with a woman.
And what///// what. What you described is called procreation.....and guess what, what......ho mo se x uals can procreate to.......even without marriage or intercourse. It's called artificial insemination.
Bible says if a man sleeps with another man as he does a women, they shall surely die! That sound like gay people to me!!! But then,all of the gay people on this planet will make it sound like something else and try to make people believe it doesn't mean that. All gays are delushional and have some abnormal chromosomes in the thinking process!!!
And when it says wives should be submissive to their husbands.....it sounds pretty much like the man should have full control.....how's that working for you?
The bible also says that all nonbelievers should die as well.
Speaking of delusional, the Bible also supports slavery, the inferiority of women and discrimination against the handicapped.
Why not read it sometime?
So why aren't you following god's word and killing gays and stoning disobedient children and owning slaves?? Where's your loyalty?.
Did you read the article? Completely rebunked.
God have mercy on your pathetic excuse for a soul. Sicko.
I'm going to refrain from picking apart your atrocious spelling and grammar and focus on your intention.
I see no reason to argue with you about your interpretation of the Bible. Clearly that is not going to change. But maybe you should consider that people have various belief systems that may not exactly be in line with your own. Respect others' opinions and lifestyles. They are not harming you.
Actually praying does work. But to unbelievers, they will never see results. Never.
Prove that it works.....exactly. You can't
Actually I should add. You never will see results because you never pray, never connect to the Deity. So of course, in your own eyes, prayer has no validity.
No...actually I work in healthcare where I see the religious people who pray be "miraculously healed" at the same rate as the people who don't pray. Kinda proves that it doesn't work
Which Deity? There's so many to choose from, and all the believers claim theirs is the correct one.
Pray for a brain.
Thank you Momoya....that was an AWESOME video!
Does God have a mouth to answer your prayer with words? Maybe you should try listening with something other than your ears?
I believe you mean "non-believers". There is no such word as "unbelievers" unless you live in a trailer.
seriously @ momoya
you and I need to become friends
You are too funny. We think like twins 🙂
I am Christian. I love n respect gays as myself. I don't believe there is anything like a lesbian either. Marriage is a privilege which not everyone may have. Thats not wrong. Calling me names won't help u. And if my grandchildren lets gays marry its their own cup of tea. Gays can't marry naturally.
How is marriage natural? It is a man-made idea
Wrong bigot and your grand children will be ASHAMED of you.
Lots of animals mate for a lifetime oh but they can reproduce
I could argue with nearly every point in this article. The author has read the Bible, but I'm not sure he was paying attention. Here's the one that I think needs attention: Theologically the point was made that, "Jesus rejected the purity requirements of the Jewish Law." How can anyone be a scholar of the Bible and say that? Christ didn't come to reject the law but to fulfill it. He expands on the law without changing it. The law says don't commit adultry, but Christ added, "if you look at a woman with lust you have committed adultry." Jesus absolutley did not reject any part of the law. This is poor journalism at best.
Maybe he is as confident of his exegesis as you are of yours?
Actually, I don't believe the author to be quite the 'expert' he professes to be.
That has nothing to do with my question, though.. FAIL
See, Craig, you're only proving that YOU'RE the one who didn't read or understand the article. People of below-average intelligence will always argue with the more intelligent argument, and they will always think they're the winner of the argument. It is useless to argue with someone of low intelligence, because they simply are not capable of understanding the fundamental point of the argument.
So please, argue all you want. Those of us who have brains can see you for what you are - a closed-minded, slow, stubborn follower of false leaders who use their "views" to oppress those who are not like them.
I simply agree with your response, Craig. The scholarship in the article is circuitous and over-reaching. Im not unsympathetic to our author's sincerity, but taking Paul as he truly is, with respect to historical context, is a matter of integrity for all who care to understand his place in the Christian faith.
Thank you captain obvious. It is called sarcasm.
You're so very welcome. :=)
reading thru these posts is very painful. too many still believe that being gay is a choice. too many don't see farther than their own back-yard. too many are ready to point fingers and ignore the "rules" that they break. just the fact that the church has changed its positions so many times, evolved, accepted responsibilities on wars and massacres, compromised with the wealthy, etc. etc isn't that enough to call all this a huge scam? whether there is a God or not, just live your life respectfully and you cannot go wrong.
That CNN has to publish articles like this is a sign that the left-wing is on the defense, as it feels compelled to prove itself here. If it was winning, they wouldn't feel a need to publish an article such as this.
Acceptance of gay mariage is increasing. Face it.
By that logic your post proves that you're worried about your side losing.. Sure you want to stick with that logic?
And what relevance does that have to the content of the article? Abandon your generalizations about "left wing" and "right wing". They are ridiculous labels slapped on to make good television. Don't be a sucker for that kind of thing.
Indoctrinate the kids by bringing it into schools devil is busy
Indoctrinate the kids in school so they are educated enough to know that there are MANY different family units. Some kids just have single parents,some kids are raised by grandparents, some kids are adopted. Kids are bright enough to handle it.
Tell your kids no such thing as man on man your friends parents are abominations and you can't go anywhere near them
Can we just forget about what the Bible says and whether its moral or immoral and have people mind their own flipping business? I'll never understand why some feel the need to control others' lives.
It's called "religion", and it's all about control.
Clearly. Also, I'm on your side, so no need to patronize.
Reblogged this on A Fresh Start and commented:
Let's just take some out of context verses and use them to strip liberty, rights, and decency from the lives of our fellow man! And we'll say Jesus told us to! Awesome!
Who is having liberty and freedom striped away other than gays?
My comment was sarcastic – that's exactly what I'm saying!
Momoya make or female
What liberties or freedoms are being stripped away
when prayers go up his blessings come down....in jeseus name amen !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
When prayers go up, nobody is listening.
blessed, if you think praying does something then I have some property I'd like to sell you...
thanks to people like you a bunch of pastors are getting very rich, just as your Jesus preached, right? keep ignoring the truth so smarter people can take advantage of your ignorance.
ABSOLUTELY ! GOD BLESS you. You see here's the problem. Those that don't believe in GOD have a serious problem because now they think there so smart they have to be GOD!! You see GOD made man and woman to produce but if you put them (gays) on an island they would be extinct! HARSH BUT TRUE! JESUS says to love one another,this MUST be done and just because people are gay doesn't mean to hate! Pray for them,they and all you GOD haters will one day face "GOD" and it's on you!
love,peace,joy,happiness to ALL
Thank god that I am an atheist
Then no need to thank God.
Thank you captain obvious. It is called sarcasm
Truly a well written article; I love how he writes that it is what is in your heart that matters, truly a Christ value. Too many Christians today have hearts fill with hatred and condemnation of anything that differs from their prejudices. Not very Christian at all.
What really matters is if you have accepted Christ as your Savior. Everything else is secondary to that. Everything.
This guy is quite plainly an idiot. Everything that Paul wrote after his conversion was ethical. As a representative of Jesus Christ he wasn't just expressing his opinion. He had been called to speak on behalf of the Savior so whatever he was expressing was not in the context of trivial discussion, it was written exhortation and specific instruction to church leaders of the day. This guy wants us to believe that the Bible is a collection of philosophical opinions. Anyone that excepts the Bible as the Bible could not except that it is anything other than the word of God, The Law recorded and handed down by his servants the prophets and apostles.
Brainwashed people will believe every word is gods word then turn around and say there is only one God idiots
and translated through how many languages? Guess what! It wasn't written in American English. Jesus wasn't a white guy
Paul supported slavery and the inferiorty of women.
It's highly unlikely you believe and follow EVERYTHING Paul said so why hypocritically quote him?
CNN likes controversy which is outside the norm of most of what the country believes spiritually with regard to the Bible and its teachings. Hence the article. It sure is drawing a lot of readers and posters, though.
No you are the idiot, I am a born again Christian and this report is very accurate.
Perhaps you ACCEPT the bible, but you obviously do not ACCEPT proper grammar.
When Paul was speaking about slaves and women he was addressing meekness. The custom of the day accepted legal slavery, and customs were obviously very different pertaining to the role of women in the societies he was addressing. If one can accept the whole context of what Paul was meekly trying to teach, then yes, you can accept everything that Paul wrote as scripture. And once again, you either accept that Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ and the Bible is scripture or you don't. Cherry-picking will inevitably lead to false and selfish conclusions.
Ho-mose-xuality in the 21st century:
"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.
Once again, opinion is opinion. The written word and traditions of the church are the pillar the of faith. Opinion means just opinion.
Religion is just an opinion.
Thats YOUR opinion!
Eberything about America is a lie, starting with "liberties and justice for all" because clearly gay people aren't enjoying those liberties.
Dogs and cats don't mate
dont be blind. Gay, White, Black, etc all have the same freedoms. Marriage has nothing to do with rights. Someone who is gay can get the same rights through a civil union. Marriage is still a religous sacrament.
But people in 'bama mate with cats and dogs.
Marriage is not a religious sacrament, it is a legal state. I'm married, and I'm an atheist. How can you explain that?
Further, the bible promotes polygamy and incest – both of which are considerably more harmful than gay marriage.
where do you buy your smoke? that's good stuff.
Natfka, you are mistaken. Some of the federal financial benefits can be gotten through civil contracts but almost none of the familial rights. And the ones that they can get are only valid in the issuing state and those who choose to recognise
them. That is far from equality and it is discrimination.