I think that the Church, as a rule, is having the wrong conversations (and making the wrong arguments) on homosexuality and (so-called) “same sex marriage.” Concerning the latter, we must attempt (at least) to understand the “same sex” aspect before we can voice an opinion on the “marriage” aspect of the phrase and phenomenon – for the notion carries with it two distinct conversations. Concerning the former, the Church has a sense that it is correct in its view and uses the Scriptures as evidence of the fact. Therefore, let’s examine the texts void of dogma – principles accepted as truth statements of an ideology or belief system – and platitudes – discourse of clichés that are disconnected from reality and originality. Unless, of course, we are simply standing on church tradition and the interpretations of those who think they know best (and/or better), in which case we have no need for a discussion on the matter.
Proselytizing to the Law Codes
The first major text used by the Church comes out of Leviticus (20:13). Now, I must begin by stating that, if one is utilizing the Jewish Scriptures to base one’s argument then, logically, that one is bound by the same Jewish Scriptures. In other words, if you are going to hold another accountable to the Mosaic Law, then you must also adhere to the same laws. Men, you must adhere to all the male codes, and women, to all the female codes (and, ladies, seeing that the Mosaic Law assumes a Patriarchal system, just ask a man what you are supposed to do and who you’re supposed to be). Incidentally, when and where was the last time you offered your prescribed sacred sacrifices? Or stoned your neighbor for stealing your goat? This is “reductio ad absurdum” – reduced to absurdity – on purpose, in the hopes of making a point. If one insists on adherence to the Jewish Law Codes then that one has converted to Judaism (in name only) and has abandoned Christianity. But I digress…
The Levitical text reads, literally, “a man (iysh) who has sexual intercourse with a male (zakar)…” While “man” is a noun, “male” is a verb, it speaks of a male sacrifice. Many of the surrounding cultures had sex – as a form of worship of a certain deity or deities – with the human or animal sacrifice (Hammurabi, Middle Assyrian, and Hittite Law Codes of the era also contained sexual rules). Thus, the prohibition, here, is against contrary forms of worship. God’s Law Codes function to identify Israel as a called out and different people, and to preserve Israel’s distinct identity.
Why was Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed?
Other Jewish (or Old Testament) texts used are the narrative concerning the (so-called) destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). Basically, the argument is that God destroyed these two cities because of their homosexual tendencies (never mind the fact that Lot offers his daughter to be raped and abused by the hording men!). But these same Scriptures offer another and competing interpretation of the events: Sodom (and her sister cities) didn’t help the poor and the needy; she prostituted herself, instead, to contrary worldviews and counterfeit gods. So God set precedent with her (Ez. 16:49-50). Nowhere does Ezekiel state that the city was destroyed because of homosexuality.
Exchange of Function: Recalling History
Interestingly, none of the Gospel accounts record Jesus addressing the matter of homosexuality. The first New Testament allusion to the subject is found in Romans (1:26-27): “…women exchanged the natural function for that which is against nature…” Whatever ‘the natural function’ and ‘that which is against nature’ means, it does not speak of homosexuality in Greek or in context. Understanding Pauline Theology, it speaks of an exchange of worldviews in one’s actions and deeds. “Likewise, men abandoned the natural function of women and enflamed their lusts toward one another.” This speaks of contrary worldviews, the perversion of creation. At the time of the writing of this letter, the slave-trade and the stealing of young boys for the purpose of sex was an epidemic in the Greco-Roman world. Also at this time, the Emperor of Rome, Nero, shocked the empire by announcing his marriage to a young Roman boy. Paul is not issuing a prohibition but is recalling history – this is what humans (as a whole) have done, and this is what God did because of what humanity had done.
Male Temple Prostitution
The last two references in the New Testament are found in the Corinthian Correspondence and the First Letter to Timothy. “Don’t you know that those without God’s own right-standing with God-self will not have a place in God’s worldview? Don’t be fooled… not effeminate nor homosexuals…” (1Cor. 6:9). And “The law is not made for those with God’s own right-standing with God-self, but for… homosexuals…” (1Tim. 1:10). In the former text, the word “effeminate” means, soft; it speaks of a male with female attributes, specifically a male temple prostitute. In both texts, the word translated, “homosexual,” is the Greek word arsenokoitais, and it speaks of self-abuse. First, as in the Mosaic Code account, don’t (conveniently) miss the others mentioned in both texts, and simply lift out of context the English translation of “homosexuals.” Secondly, both texts speak of temple prostitution and, therefore, refer to contrary forms of worship. All three New Testament accounts speak not to a lifestyle choice, but to the prohibition against the taking from others, rather than giving. They speak to the “perversion” of God’s worldview into a contrary worldview; the sacrifice of the spirit for the flesh, which is thoroughly a Pauline concept and principle (connoted by the qualifier “God’s own right-standing with God-self”).
Logic Will Never Fail You
Allow me to make a few observations:
- If there is a general prohibition against homosexuality particularly, with the punishment being God’s abandonment and the exclusion of entrance to the Kingdom of God especially, then all other rules in the Law Codes, and the subsequent punishments, likewise, apply to all humanity.
- But if that is true, then the Theology of the Cross is lost and the definition and application of “Forgiveness” is meaningless and of no use to God or humanity.
- And if God does have a prohibition against homosexuality, but forgives all other transgressions against the Law Codes, then all logic falls to the ground; there is no consistency to God’s thought process and God is subject to change God’s mind at any time, including God’s present worldview – which defies the notion of “God’ by definition.
Science is speaking to the discussion.
Recent studies concerning fetal development during the three trimesters of pregnancy are adding to the conversation. In the first trimester sexual organs are developed – usually either male or female (“usually” because, rarely, neither organ or both organs are developed in the same fetus). But it is not until the third trimester that the brain is developed enough to release a dominate chemical of either testosterone or estrogen. If, for example, a male organ develops in the first trimester, but the brain releases more of the estrogen chemical, or a female organ with the chemical testosterone, then a crisis of identity becomes inevitable. The argument that “God made me gay” is without sound theology, but to say that “I was born this way” is, therefore, reasonable.
Politics is (negatively) speaking to the discussion.
There is what can only be described as, “an agenda,” that is using the homosexual culture/counter-culture to forward its own worldview. It is destructive and cares only for those who adhere to its language. For example, the notion of “Gay Rights” does not speak to the conversation in a positive sense, but only serves to take from all others in the discussion. In politically correct fashion, it desires to silence all opinions to the contrary, changing the dialogue to a monologue. Homosexuals (and other cultures/counter-cultures) are being used and, ironically, abused by this agenda. The resulting aftermath will be thoroughly catastrophic for humans generally and homosexuals particularly. I think, after reflecting on many conversations, that most Christians take exception to the agenda, but mistakenly assign blame to the culture/counterculture itself.
Theology can speak to the discussion.
The church must enter the discussion, however. We must have a voice in the conversation. We cannot stick our (proverbial) fingers in our ears and go on with the interpretations as we’ve always known them, as if they’re somehow authoritative. Fear is yet another “agenda.” To be afraid of information and/or contrary arguments to our own is ignoring (and is ignorant of) the reality of the Community that we claim. God’s worldview is not about “right or wrong,” “good and bad.” God’s worldview is over against all contrary worldviews. The primary article of God’s worldview – the work of Christ on His cross and the resulting Resurrection Life – is not concerning specific ”sins,” but “Sin” in general. Sin (hamartia, in the Greek) is “to miss God’s intended mark for humanity and, subsequently, to move the mark of God’s intension for humanity.” Sins (plural) are as a result of the Sin of a contrary worldview. Like everything else, the Cruciform speaks to our contrary worldviews because the Cross of Christ and the Resurrection Life have spoken to our missing of the mark. If it is the flesh, then the Cruciform will kill it. This is the language I wish to add to the conversation.