Category Archives: The Bible and Homosexuality

First and foremost, this blog is a safe place for all people to discuss the topic of Christianity and homosexuality. That being said, I get a lot of questions about what I think the Bible does or doesn’t say about the topic. Since the “What We Believe” section of the website is one of the most visited pages, I thought it might be constructive to do a 4-part series on the clobber passages—the six passages of the Bible most often used to condemn homosexuals. The majority of the material I will use comes from Dr. Rembert Truluck, simply because I think he does a fantastic job at hashing out these passages. As always, discussion is encouraged!

“One Liberation Under God: LGBT Life in the Bible Belt South”

Hello, everyone! I’d like to take a few minutes to tell you about a project I’m extremely excited about… a project I’d love for you to be a part of. As you know, everyone has a story. When you’re gay and Christian, you have a lot of insight to offer others who may be going through the same things. Many of your stories have been shared on this blog, and a lot of people have been encouraged by hearing them.  So, I’m taking things a step further, and making a documentary.

I will be contacting some of you personally within the next several days. But I’d like to get as many people involved as possible. Below, you will find the form letter I’m currently sending out to potential participants. Please contact me if you think you may be interested. For those of you who live long distances from me, don’t let that stop you. I plan to launch a fundraiser (via Kickstarter) in a few weeks to cover travel expenses. If the goal is reached, then I’ll have the means to travel anywhere within the continental US.

Read on and contact me if interested. And thank you in advance!

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Hello! I hope this finds you doing well. I’m contacting you because I believe you and I share a passion for building bridges between the Church and the LGBT community. I also believe you have a lot to offer in the way of conversation, theology, and unique perspective. That’s why I would like to personally invite you to be a part of my new project: “One Liberation Under God: LGBT Life in the Bible Belt South”. This project will be in the form of a documentary film. My vision is to open the lines of communication on both sides of the “Great Gay Debate”, and explore the things that inspire certain beliefs in people.

Specifically, I hope for the film to do the following:

•Outline the arguments held by both LGBT advocates and religious conservatives, and interview individuals on every point of the spectrum.

•Give a greater understanding of exactly what it means to be gay.

•Showcase testimonies from LGBT Christians, and from conservative Christians.

•Be a catalyst for conversation… because no matter what you believe about LGBT issues, we should all learn that it’s okay to talk about it.

•Give an overview of statistics for a number of things, including:

•Christians who are for or against LGBT rights

•LGBT youth suicide

•History of acceptance vs. disapproval of LGBT individuals in the South

•LGBT youth and homelessness

I understand and anticipate that you—as a potential participant in this project—may not have the same views I hold. However, I fully intend on showcasing all individuals, opinions, and thoughts in a positive manner. The goal of this film is to unite and build bridges. Therefore, I do not believe it to be fruitful or beneficial to negatively represent views that differ from my own. If you should choose to participate in this project, you may choose to disclose your full identity, or you may choose to remain completely anonymous.

If you’re up for the challenge, please respond via my email (wilson.mandy@gmail.com) by Monday, March 17th, 2014. This is to ensure that I have time to make travel plans and schedule interviews. This isn’t a large scale production; in fact, I’m planning to film with my iPhone, and edit with Final Cut Pro—things I already have available to me. However, I will launch a Kickstarter profile once things are geared up, in order to cover my travel expenses. And of course, if you participate, you will receive a digital copy of the project, absolutely free.

I’m really interested in telling our stories: gay, straight, liberal, and conservative. I want to do this project because I believe it’s important to have these conversations. By telling our stories and listening to the stories of others, we will gain a greater understanding of what it means to “love your neighbor”. We can achieve the impossible by rebuilding bridges that have previously been destroyed. Ultimately, I think we’ll find we don’t have to agree on everything in order to love one another. In my own life, I’ve experienced such immense joy in these conversations, and I’d like to take the world on a journey. Won’t you join me?

Warmest regards,

Mandy

What Paul Said

“Does it really matter what Paul said?”

The words hung in the air. “Is she saying what I think she’s saying?” I thought.

I was in a small bible study group—a group particularly designed to cultivate conversation about the LGBT community and the Church. Over the past several years, I had made my peace about what it meant for me personally to be gay and Christian. I had memorized the six clobber passages that are so often used against the LGBT community. (Haven’t we all?) I could name the books, chapters, and verses where they could be found. I had studied about the culture surrounding Paul’s letters, and the churches to which they were written. I had researched the histology of the word ἀρσενοκοίτης (arsenokoitēs). God and I were good. And even as a non-confrontational person, I still had that knowledge polished and tucked away, in case of emergency. We have to be prepared to share why we believe what we believe… especially when it hits so close to home.

My journey from “conservative” to “progressive” was gradual. I spent years with one foot in fundamentalism. But with these words—in this particular moment—I could virtually feel those remaining chains of fundamentalism crumble. Does it really matter what Paul said? Her words somehow gave me permission to face the questions I’d been quietly asking for years. I had always felt a certain degree of guilt when I found myself asking questions about God or faith. (It’s a lovely little trait that many of us pick up through the vast and varied means of indoctrination.) But when I began to evaluate my reasons for not asking questions, it came down to one worry: I was afraid of what I would find. This is simply not a good enough reason. There is virtually no other situation in life where one is encouraged to stop searching, stop studying, stop inquiring. And really, isn’t it that much more important to ask questions about something as deeply important as faith?

Saint Paul Writing His Epistles by Valentin de Boulogne

“Saint Paul Writing His Epistles” by Valentin de Boulogne

In regards to Paul’s letters, we must try to do more than place ourselves in his culture. We must also strive to understand his background. And most importantly, we must learn all we can about the manuscripts that compose what we now know as the New Testament (all of which are copies of copies of copies, etc.) The dates of Paul’s letters are approximated to be in the 50’s A.D., yet the earliest discovered manuscript dates to somewhere between 175-225 A.D. When you start to read the Pauline letters from a historical perspective, things change. You notice things you didn’t notice before. You consider things you hadn’t previously considered. We could debate indefinitely about the theology of Paul’s writings: What he may have meant, what he could have thought, what his writing style was. But let’s just assume for a moment that every word of Paul’s letters made it to our modern day translations without a scratch. Let’s imagine that nothing has been added, omitted, or changed in any way. What then? What would that mean for LGBT Christians? Well, we would have to accept that Paul was speaking out against same-sex relationships. We would have to acknowledge that he viewed LGBT relationships as sinful.

Does it matter?

We’ve addressed the historicity of Paul in a little more detail in a post entitled: Paving the Road to Damascus. In a nutshell, we discussed the fact that while Paul was a gifted and anointed trailblazer, he was still human. (Personally, I think that adds an element of redemption in Paul’s story that wouldn’t be there otherwise.) We must also remember that Paul was Jewish—a bona fide descendant of the tribe of Benjamin. The Holiness Code—which he no doubt lived by—prohibited same-sex relations with the purpose of preserving the Israeli lineage. It is my personal opinion that Paul could not have understood monogamous, same-sex relationships as we know them today. Paul’s opinions were a result of his time and culture.

This doesn’t mean I don’t respect Paul or his letters. Quite the opposite, actually; he has always been my favorite Biblical author. But I hold to the notion it’s best to read Scripture with a good dose of reason. Isn’t that, in fact, what Paul himself did when he paved the way for Christianity? He went against his family, against his previous beliefs, and against his very religion when he pronounced Jesus to be the King. Paul had previously rejected Jesus… even to the point of murdering those who believed him to be the Savior. But even after his conversion, he didn’t always see eye to eye with the disciples of Jesus. Even on his second visit to Jerusalem (Galatians 2), he condemned Peter for dining only with the Jews and not the Gentiles. And we certainly know that Paul and James took opposite views on the “works vs. grace” debate. Today, we accept the fact that Paul questioned the Church in his day. He challenged popular notions that were held. He went against the grain. Why are Christians often looked down upon for doing the very same things today? If the Word is living, then wouldn’t it make sense to re-evaluate what it means in our current time and culture?

What do you think? When it comes down to it, does it matter what Paul said?

Homosexuality and the Bible: The Clobber Passages—Part 4

First and foremost, this blog is a safe place for all people to discuss the topic of Christianity and homosexuality. That being said, I get a lot of questions about what I think the Bible does or doesn’t say about the topic. Since the “What We Believe” section of the website is one of the most visited pages, I thought it might be constructive to do a 4-part series on the clobber passages—the six passages of the Bible most often used to condemn homosexuals. A portion of the material I will use comes from Dr. Rembert Truluck, simply because I think he does a fantastic job at hashing out these passages. As always, discussion is encouraged!

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As we begin the last segment of this series, let’s take a look at the texts we will be discussing:

I Corinthians 6:9: “The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God. So do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the realm of God.” 

I Timothy 1:9-10: “Law is not made for a righteous person but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers and fornicators and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound (healthy) teaching.” 

At first reading, these passages sound pretty cut and dry. For decades upon decades, these two verses have been used to condemn LGBT people. But as always, we must consider translation discrepancies. The bottom line here, is that the word that was translated as “homosexual” does not mean homosexual; and the word translated as “effeminate” does not mean effeminate. It should also be pointed out here that the word homosexual is a composite word, made up of one Greek word (homo: “same”), and one Latin word (sexualis: “sex”). The word homosexual is actually of modern origin. Its first known appearance is found in a 1869 German pamphlet 143 des Preussischen Strafgesetzbuchs und seine Aufrechterhaltung als 152 des Entwurfs eines Strafgesetzbuchs für den Norddeutschen Bund (see this article for more information). There is no word in biblical Greek or Hebrew that is parallel to the word “homosexual.” No Bible before the Revised Standard Version in 1946 used “homosexual” in any Bible translation.

The two Greek words up for discussion in these passages are malakoi and arsenokoitai. Let’s take a closer look at both of these:

Malakoi is translated as “effeminate” in the King James version. Other translations include the terms: “male prostitutes”, “homosexuals”, and “men who have sex with other men”. All of these translations are far removed from the original meaning of the word malakoi. To determine its intent, we must look at other places of usage in Scripture. Malakoi is used in Matthew 11:8 and Luke 7:25 to describe soft clothing. Additionally, in Matthew 4:23 and 9:35, the word is used to refer to illness or sickness. These four verses are the only other places that malakoi is used—none of which hint at or reference sexuality in any way.

So, what does malakoi mean? Looking at the context and usage of the word from the additional verses from Matthew and Luke, the most accurate translation would be “soft” or “vulnerable”. So what does it mean in the context of 1 Corinthians 6:9? It seems to me that malakoi in this context most likely means “soft in spirit” or “weak”. For example, it could refer to someone who is easily influenced, or who does not think for themselves. It could refer to someone who is undisciplined or self-indulgent. However, given the textual clues from the Gospels, I do not believe it means “effeminate” or “homosexual”.

Arsenokoitai is most commonly translated as “sodomites”, “men who defile themselves with other men”, or “those who practice homosexuality”. This term has not been discovered in any writings prior to Paul’s letter. One prevalent theory is that Paul may have even invented the word. When broken down, the word seems to be a conjunctive term made up of two words: “male” and “bed”. When we look at it this way, arsenokoitai could have several potential meanings. It could refer to the customers of male prostitutes, as male prostitution was a very common practice in Rome during Paul’s time. Additionally, assuming the two literal meanings of a conjunctive word can be dangerous, as well. For example, the word “lady-killer” in English means neither a lady who kills nor a person who kills ladies but a man who knows how to charm women. (*1) Finally, arsenokoitai could refer to same-sex intercourse. However, the only known instances of same-sex intercourse in Paul’s time was that of pagan ritual worship, or as a means of domination and humiliation to victims in warfare. We must remember that Paul lived in a patriarchal society. There was nothing worse for a man in Paul’s time than to be demoted to the position of a woman. I believe it is for this reason that homophobia so often originates from the hatred of women. Paul could not have known same-sex relationships as we know them today. In his time, these practices were acts of violence, hatred, and pagan rituals.

So, what is the conclusion? What happens when we read our Bible and it clearly reads “homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of heaven”? We must remind ourselves that yes, this is what the Bible reads, but it is not what it says. We must remember that the Bible as we know it today has passed through many hands and has been translated in many languages. Yes, it is inspired. Yes, it was written by the anointed. But it is simply not inerrant. Why? Because it was written by human hands in a foreign culture, in a distant time. Several Biblical accounts were written hundreds of years after the events they were recording.

In closing, the Bible—this sacred text by which we measure our lives—should come with a warning label: “Handle with great care and great caution. Use this book not to condemn, judge, discriminate, or exclude; but use it to show the power of divine Love, compassion, mercy, grace, and inclusion.”

*1. Miner, Jeff (pastor of the Jesus Metropolitan Community Church in Indianapolis, Indiana), John Tyler Connoley (who recently completed a Masters in Biblical Studies at Earlham School of Religion-A Quaker University) The Children are Free, Indianapolis, Indiana, Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, 2002, page 19.

Homosexuality and the Bible: The Clobber Passages—Part 3

First and foremost, this blog is a safe place for all people to discuss the topic of Christianity and homosexuality. That being said, I get a lot of questions about what I think the Bible does or doesn’t say about the topic. Since the “What We Believe” section of the website is one of the most visited pages, I thought it might be constructive to do a 4-part series on the clobber passages—the six passages of the Bible most often used to condemn homosexuals. A portion of the material I will use comes from Dr. Rembert Truluck, simply because I think he does a fantastic job at hashing out these passages. As always, discussion is encouraged!

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Romans 1:26-27: “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions: for their women exchanged the natural use for that which is against nature.  And in the same way also the men abandoned the natural use of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.”

This little passage from Romans is probably the most frequently used (or rather misused) Bible verse for condemning homosexuals. Admittedly, it was the one I had the most difficult time comprehending in my own research and study. Here, wrapped up in this tight, neat little package of a cherry-picked verse, we have a few assumptions that are unfortunately adopted by many. First, there is the assumption that we 21st century readers understand exactly what Paul meant by the word “natural”. Also, there is the assumption that Paul was referring to homosexuals exactly as we understand them today. Thirdly, there is the astonishingly common belief that the “due penalty” Paul is referring to is AIDS.

These assumptions are the results we get when modern Christians remove Scripture from its historical and cultural context. Yes, the Bible is a handbook of sorts. It can be used to point us in the direction of what is holy; it can be used as a moral compass. However, it must be read in its original context, with the culture and historical background at the forefront. The Bible is primarily a history of God’s interactions with humanity. When it is taken out of context, it loses its beauty and its intent… and it can become downright poisonous.

Allow me to discuss a few key points (some of which are taken from some of my previous articles):

Natural vs. Unnatural. “Natural” means customary to the culture, and “unnatural” means uncustomary (or deviated from cultural norm). Paul uses this same “contrary to nature” terminology later on in Romans, when he discusses how the Gentiles obtain their salvation. “But if some of the branches were broken off, while you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them to share the richness [of the root and sap] of the olive tree, do not boast over the branches and pride yourself at their expense. If you do boast and feel superior, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root [that supports] you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken (pruned) off so that I might be grafted in!’” (Romans 11:17-19 AMP)

Homosexual acts that Paul mentions in this passage refer to pagan idol worship. The Baal fertility rituals were a common practice in Paul’s time. This specific passage is referring to heterosexuals who participated in homosexual acts and orgies to ensure good crops for the season. Paul knew nothing of homosexual relationships as they are today, as they simply could not exist in his ancient patriarchal society.

What is the “due penalty of their error?” …Certainly not AIDS, which I’ll address in the next paragraph. But let’s begin by looking at the letter to Rome in its entirety. From the very beginning of Chapter 1, Paul describes a people who have literally turned their backs on God. They committed blasphemy by “exchanging the truth of God for a lie”. Beginning in verse 21, their many iniquities are listed by Paul: false wisdom, idol worship, lust, greed, malice, envy, jealousy, murder, strife, deceit, treachery, ill-will, backbiting, gossiping, and slander (to name a few). Paul says that these people recognized the identity of God, but refused to glorify and honor Him or give Him thanks. (I know plenty of gay folks who love the Lord with every fiber of their being.) Furthermore, anyone should be slow to judge after reading the first verse of Chapter 2: “Therefore you have no excuse or defense or justification, O man, whoever you are who judges and condemns another. For in posing as judge and passing sentence on another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge are habitually practicing the very same things that you denounce.” Yet, people who use these verses to condemn homosexuals never seem to quote past Chapter 1. HOW did this become a passage aimed at homosexuals?

As for the “due penalty” that Paul refers to… I believe it is the absence of God, plain and simple. These people rejected God to such a degree that there was no room for the Holy Spirit to live inside of them. Darkness, emptiness, hate, hopelessness—this is the due penalty they received in themselves.

And just to debunk the AIDS theory, here’s a link to all other known sexually transmitted diseases… all of which, by the way, are most commonly transmitted by heterosexuals. (Going by this reasoning, then heterosexuals are being punished by disease way more harshly than homosexuals.)

Paul was a product of his time and culture. Aside from Jesus himself, Paul was unarguably the most defining component of the New Testament; the majority of our texts would be non-existent without him! Homosexual practices of Paul’s time were generally implemented as a facet of pagan worship. Paul was also a Jew—a descendant of the tribe of Benjamin. Therefore, he was familiar with the Holiness Code of the Old Testament, which also prohibited homosexual relations in order to ensure the lineage of the Israelites continued. If Paul was living among us today, I think he would be seeking answers along with the rest of us. To be sure, he absolutely knew what it meant to be transformed by the unconditional love of Christ. Once a persecutor of Christ-followers himself, Paul fell before Jesus at his conversion on the road to Damascus. He was the one that God had chosen to preach salvation to the Jews and Gentiles alike. I cannot imagine the flood of emotions Paul must have felt—once a murderer, and now a vessel of God’s inclusive love!

Paul was human. Here is a previous post entirely dedicated to the humanity of Paul. If you haven’t read it yet, I would encourage you to do so. Paul was chosen by God, and he was undeniably anointed… but he was also fully human. Remember the passage in 1 Corinthians 5 when Paul instructs the Church at Corinth to excommunicate an individual who had committed incest? He went so far as to tell them to “hand [the man] over to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh.” Yet, in 2 Corinthians, Paul recants. He tells them, “…instead you should console him, so that he might not be overwhelmed with excessive sorrow”. Paul changed his mind! His conscience did a 180! There are still congregations who use the former passage to justify excommunication in the Church. Yet, they ignore the latter passage. Can you imagine how different our ideas about faith, mercy, and grace would be if scholars had never discovered Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians?

Reading Paul’s letters is like listening to one side of a telephone conversation. Paul’s letters were just that: conversations meant for a specific group of people in a specific culture at a specific time. Each recipient or congregation had its own circumstances. We have no way of knowing the other side of the conversation. We think we know what Paul is saying, but we must guess or assume what the other side has said. Truluck said it best:

“Taking anything that Paul said out its context is like trying to drive a car blindfolded.  You don’t know where you are, where you have been, where you are going, or who you just ran over and killed!”

We must not twist Paul’s letters and use them to oppress individuals. History shows us that the Bible (and in many cases, Paul’s writings) have been wrongly used to discriminate against women, children, Jews, African-Americans, religious reformers and the mentally ill. It has been used to defend heinous crimes such as slavery, the Crusades and the Inquisition. As 2 Peter 3:16-18 warns, we must be careful not to misconstrue Paul’s letters, or use them in unhealthy and destructive ways:

“16Speaking of this as he does in all of his letters. There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrue to their own utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures.

17Let me warn you therefore, beloved, that knowing these things beforehand, you should be on your guard, lest you be carried away by the error of lawless and wicked [persons and] fall from your own [present] firm condition [your own steadfastness of mind]. 18But grow in grace (undeserved favor, spiritual strength) and recognition and knowledge and understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (the Messiah). To Him [be] glory (honor, majesty, and splendor) both now and to the day of eternity. Amen (so be it)!”

Verse 18 tells us to “grow in grace”. I ask you: is discrimination against LGBT people in the Church allowing us to do this? Is it growing in grace when a lesbian is forced to step down from her leadership role? Is it growing in grace when a gay man must suffer in silence because he knows what will happen if he is truthful? Is it growing in grace when countless teens are committing suicide simply because it seems like the better alternative to being gay?

Satan uses this hot-button issue to gain a foothold in God’s Church. When we are all too busy arguing over the topic of homosexuality, we miss out on the important, life-giving opportunities in God’s kingdom. Do you want your Bible in a nutshell? Jesus made it easy for us:

“’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:37-40

 

 

Homosexuality and the Bible: The Clobber Passages—Part 2

First and foremost, this blog is a safe place for all people to discuss the topic of Christianity and homosexuality. That being said, I get a lot of questions about what I think the Bible does or doesn’t say about the topic. Since the “What We Believe” section of the website is one of the most visited pages, I thought it might be constructive to do a 4-part series on the clobber passages—the six passages of the Bible most often used to condemn homosexuals. The majority of the material I will use comes from Dr. Rembert Truluck, simply because I think he does a fantastic job at hashing out these passages. As always, discussion is encouraged!

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Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as those who lie with a female; it is an abomination.”

Leviticus 20:13: “If a man lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination and they shall surely be put to death.”

First of all, we must determine the meaning of the word “abomination”. This word literally meant “uncustomary” in the time that the Holy Law was written. The word was used to describe a breach of ritual. That’s a big difference from how the word “abomination” is sometimes understood today! Both of these Levitical verses refer to those who took part in the Baal fertility rituals. By engaging in pagan practices, they were rejecting their true God and ignoring the Laws that were put in place to set the nation of Israel apart from all other cultures of the time. These two passages are interestingly still sometimes used against homosexuals. However, the rest of this Pentateuchal book both demands rituals that are uncustomary/uncommon today and forbids a number of other practices that are customary/common today. For instance:

•Leviticus 12:1-8 states that a woman is unclean for 33 days after giving birth to a boy, and for 66 days after giving birth to a girl. Additionally, it demands that certain animals be sacrificed as a burnt offering and a sin offering for cleansing.

•Leviticus 11:1-12 says all unclean animals are forbidden as food, including: rabbits, pigs, and shellfish, such as oysters, shrimp, lobsters, crabs, clams, etc. Eating these as food is called an “abomination“.

•Leviticus 20:25 demands that “you are to make a distinction between the clean and unclean animal and between the unclean and clean bird; and you shall not make yourself an abomination by animal or by bird or by anything that creeps on the ground, which I have separated for you as unclean.” Eating these unclean birds (and certain unclean insects) is called an “abomination“.

•Leviticus 18:19 forbids a husband from having sex with his wife during her menstrual period. This is considered an “abomination“.

•Leviticus 19:19 forbids mixed breeding of various kinds of cattle, sowing various kinds of seeds in your field or wearing “a garment made from two kinds of material mixed together.” This is an “abomination“.

•Leviticus 19:27 demands that “you shall not round off the side-growth of your heads, nor harm the edges of your beard.” The next verse forbids “tattoo marks on yourself.” These are all “abominations“.

•Leviticus 26 begins: “If you do not obey me and do not carry out all of these commandments, if instead, you reject my statutes, and if your soul abhors my ordinances so as not to carry out all my commandments …I, in turn, will do this to you: I will appoint over you a sudden terror, consumption and fever that shall waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away; also, you shall sow your seed uselessly, for your enemies shall eat it up.” This notion continues through the entire chapter, reminding the nation of Israel what horrible things will occur if they fail to keep the commandments in their entirety.

People who use Leviticus as a way to discriminate and condemn homosexuals have become quite proficient at proof-texting, or cherry-picking verses to justify their point of view. However, if they cling to these two verses, they must be ready to embrace the rest of the statutes just as passionately. Dr. Truluck said it best:

“Why don’t fundamentalists organize protests and picket seafood restaurants, oyster bars, church barbecue suppers, all grocery stores, barber shops, tattoo parlors, and stores that sell suits and dresses made of mixed wool, cotton, polyester, and other materials? All of these products and services are “abominations” in Leviticus. When have you heard a preacher condemn the demonic abomination of garments that are made of mixed fabrics?”  -Dr. Rembert Truluck

When we read the Scriptures panoramically rather than microscopically, we begin to see the history of God’s people as it was meant to be seen. The origins of our faith and the journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land… all of it escalates to the profound essentiality of the Love that came to earth through Jesus.

Homosexuality and the Bible: The Clobber Passages—Part 1

First and foremost, this blog is a safe place for all people to discuss the topic of Christianity and homosexuality. That being said, I get a lot of questions about what I think the Bible does or doesn’t say about the topic. Since the “What We Believe” section of the website is one of the most visited pages, I thought it might be constructive to do a 4-part series on the clobber passages—the six passages of the Bible most often used to condemn homosexuals. The majority of the material I will use comes from Dr. Rembert Truluck, simply because I think he does a fantastic job at hashing out these passages. As always, discussion is encouraged!

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Genesis 19:5: “Bring them out to us that we may know them”.

Sodom and Gomorrah… for decades this story has been used in some congregations to condemn homosexuality. The citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah were known for inhospitality. Instead of feeding, clothing, and providing shelter for the angelic wanderers who were hiding in Lot’s house, they wanted to gang rape them. Why in the world would they want to do that? I surmise it’s one of two reasons. The first is the more obvious… perhaps they wanted to engage in these acts for sexual pleasure. They may have also been demonstrating an exertion of power over their victims and humiliating them. (A common practice of that time and culture was for men to undermine and conquer other men by raping them.)

Further into the passage, Lot tells the men that they can have sex with his daughters instead! What?! How is that any better? Interestingly, the people who use this passage to condemn homosexuals never make it to this verse. Until I began researching this topic myself, I didn’t even know this part of the story existed! And let’s not forget the incestuous relationship between Lot and his two daughters in verses 30-39!

The Bible, in its entirety, mentions the sins of Sodom in 22 different verses. Nowhere does it mention homosexuality. Here is a list of those passages:

Genesis 13:13

Genesis 18:20

Genesis 19:13

Deuteronomy 29:17-26

Deuteronomy 32:32-38

Isaiah 1:9-23

Isaiah 3:8-15

Isaiah 13: 11-19

Jeremiah 23:10-14

Jeremiah 49:16-18

Jeremiah 50:2-40

Lamentations 4:3-6

Ezekiel 16:49-50

Amos 4:1-11

Zephaniah 2:8

Matthew 20:11

Matthew 11:19-24

Mark 6:10-11

Luke 10:10-12

Luke 17:26-29

2 Peter 2:6

Jude 1:7-8 ****(This verse is most commonly used to support homosexuality as a sin of Sodom, due to the “strange flesh” reference. While some assume “strange flesh” refers to homosexual acts, it actually refers to the “sons of God” that came to earth and had sexual intercourse with women, as recorded in traditional Jewish history and literature.)

As Truluck stated, “The story of Sodom clearly teaches that evil and violent people who attack aliens and strangers whom they do not know or understand receive God’s quick and terrible punishment. The purpose of the story is to show that misunderstood, strange, or feared minorities in any community are in danger from violence by the majority when that majority is ignorant, ungodly, selfish and afraid.”

Isn’t it interesting that a passage commonly used to promote homophobia actually denounces it?