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. Karin

    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon ones web site in adiotdin to wanted to help express of which I have extremely enjoyed reading ones webpage in adiotdin to threads. Anyway I’ll possibly be subscribing ones give in adiotdin to When i wish to help read ones webpage once again.

    November 10, 2012 at 2:21 am |
  2. Jesus Is My Car Insurance

    Need a quote fast? Pray and I'll get back to you in seconds!

    June 10, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  3. Chums Word

    Even the bible was banned at some point because someone, somewhere didn't believe in ANY of it. This whole thing of everyone making interpretations of what any of it means is plain ignorant... Keep in mind there are 8 known versions of the bible throughout history and lets not get into translation "liberties" that were taken so that it could fill someones agenda.. Faith will never be a bad thing, organized religion however.... Let's just say the fallibility of man has been proven over the years.

    June 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
  4. Tebbe Daivs

    The bible is NOT the word of God. It was written by man for man about man for the manipulation of man. If you want to hear God be still and know him. Love others no matter what. We do not need a book or a religion to believe in God. Jesus was not a Christian. There is no one path to the Divine. ANy one who believes otherwise is just not opening their mind to Truth.

    May 22, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • Mark

      This is the most intelligent post I 've read. Thanks.

      June 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • steve

      CNN needs a like button....great post Tebbe

      June 8, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Steve Billiter

      The Bible IS the Word of God. Love? The most powerful, self-sacrificing love is revealed in the Bible as God Himself became a man to die for the sins off the world.The Bible alone reveals the plan of salvation and the conditions that must be met by all to have immortality aand a life that measures with that of Gods.

      When the Bible was burned during the French revolution, the resulting bloodshed was almost beyond belief as man's inhumane cruelty to men reached new heights. France is still largely an atheistic nation today.

      God is love, and the Bible reveals His love to man.

      June 8, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Jay

      The absolutism of your conclusions is HILARIOUS. The Bible IS NOT.... of course you would know, because you are all knowing, all seeing, and was there from the beginning. Cretinism is alive and well in the USA.

      June 9, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • phoodphite

      I mostly agree. If "Christians" want to avoid being labeled as extremists, then they should at least pay more attention to the teachings of Jesus than the writings of the h-phobe apostles that went off on their own tangents claiming to do so in his name. To argue a point to back up hatred, judgement, disenfranchisement, you'll notice people have to resort to quotes from Paul, etc. They cannot do that with the words of Jesus cause he was not about any of those things.

      June 10, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Aaron

      Still you quote the His Word, "be still and know" (http://esv.to/Ps46.10).

      June 14, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  5. FC

    Great resources on this topic:
    A Theology of the Body for Beginners – Christopher West
    Man and Woman He Created Them – A Theology of the Body – John Paul II
    Catechism of the Catholic Church 1992 or 1994 International Editions – Compiled by Catholic Bishops Worldwide with JP II
    United States Catholic Catechism for Adults

    May 22, 2012 at 1:43 am |
  6. bold

    saying that we are seeking to re interpret the bible today is ridiculous. The bible has been translated and then reinterpreted throughout history. Whole new testament gospels were thrown aside 4 political and religious reasons. The early church did not like the gospel of mary and the gospel of judas so they were not included in today's new testament. Are they not also the word of god?

    May 22, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,.

    May 20, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Jesus

      *Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!*!

      May 21, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • Which God?

      Really? You believe in that horsemanue you spout? How many people pray to stop the wars, famine, drought, poverty? How many parents pray for their childrens life threatening diseases to go away? How often has your "god" let them die, let atrocities of war go unanswered, let entire regions lose their crops and folks starve?? You are a pathetic human being, an azzhole, whose own inferiority complex makes him feel special and smug. Your 'god' is a petty piece of horse-crap that, in reality, doesn't exist except in your tiny, narrow mind. If you trulu believe in your "god" I'd ask "it" for forgiveness for being such a smacked-azz. and wishing crud on my fellow human beings. Oh wait, your 'god' made you a smacked-azz. Made you in its image, right?

      May 21, 2012 at 11:02 am |
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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.