GAY TALES
                                 Articles

See some very interesting articles I have written
plus references to good articles by others.

Did Jesus ever teach about homosexuality?

There are no recorded words of Jesus about homosexuality, either as same-sex orientation or same-sex activity.  While we do not know Jesus’ actual views on this topic, we can surmise his probable views.



Jesus’ ideas on same-sex behavior would have been partly formed by his Jewish background and religious education.  He would have accepted man-woman sex as the usual practice and he would have known that Leviticus prohibited full sex between males.  Therefore Jesus probably agreed with his culture’s view that sex between men is bad.

Although Jesus disagreed with his culture’s view on keeping the Sabbath and eating “unclean” foods, he appears to have supported his culture’s view on sex.  He condemned adultery, illicit or immoral sex and sexual debauchery (Mark 7:21-22)  He also emphasized the permanence of male-female marriage (Mark 10: 6-8) while rejecting traditional family values (Luke 14:26 and Matthew 12:47-49).

Jesus’ only implied reference to sex between men is its possible inclusion in his condemnation of illicit sex (assuming that illicit sex is any sexual activity condemned in the Old Testament) (Mark 7:21).  On the other hand, it is possible that Jesus was referring to gay men when he mentioned “born eunuchs” – without any condemnation (Matthew 19:12).  In biblical times, such men were anatomically whole but were unable or unwilling to have sex with women.  They either were not at all interested in sex or were interested, but only with other men.

The reason that Jesus is “silent” on same-sex orientation or same-sex activity could be because he did not think it a relevant or important topic.  Or it could be because his public or intimate comments were consistent with his Jewish culture and so were not considered to be worth recording.  We can only guess at the reason.

New Bible Changes Message for Gays (and Others)

The latest translation of the New International Version of the Bible has an important change impacting on gays and others.

The old version said that “male prostitutes” and “homosexual offenders” will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9).  This allowed many gay Christians to claim the verse didn’t apply to them because they were neither male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders.



The latest version has changed this to say “men who have sex with men” will not inherit the kingdom of God.  A positive for gay people is that the negative words “homosexual offenders” are gone.  And lesbians, included in “homosexual offenders” in the old version, are not covered by the new words.

On the other hand, gay men are squarely covered by “men who have sex with men”.  They can no longer claim that the verse doesn’t apply to them, unless they don’t have any sex with other men.

But that’s not all.  The new words mean that the condemnation in the verse now also applies to straight men who have sex with men, even though they don’t consider themselves as homosexual.  A major change indeed!!

Does the Bible condemn loving, monogamous same-sex unions?

A number of commentators claim that the Bible does not condemn loving, monogamous same-sex unions. However this claim ignores the fact that these unions between men usually involve males penetrating males, which the Bible definitely does condemn. So the Bible does indirectly condemn loving, monogamous unions between men if penetrative sex takes place.

Nevertheless the Bible’s condemnation does not apply today. This is because it is mainly based on the ancient cultural idea that it was shameful for a man to be entered like a woman during sex. Other cultural reasons for the condemnation were its association with soldiers humiliating weaker men by raping them, and body fluids being wasted instead of being used to create babies.  As we no longer accept these cultural reasons, the condemnation does not apply today.

This conclusion is reinforced by the no-harm argument.  The biblical condemnation of sex between men does not apply to men today when no harm is caused to the participants or others.

Is homosexuality a sin?

Firstly, homosexuality as a sexual orientation (being sexually attracted to someone of the same sex) is NOT a sin.  God has given some people an attraction towards others of the same sex.

How do we know?  Because the Bible accepts and has positive stories of same-sex emotional or romantic attraction and deep friendship.  For example Jesus and the disciple he loved, Ruth and Naomi, and Jonathan being totally in love with David.



Homosexuality as a sexual activity (sex between men) is condemned by the Bible and therefore WAS a sin for the ancient Israelites and for early Christians of biblical times.

The condemnation was mainly based on the ancient cultural idea that it was shameful and sinful for a man to be entered like a woman during sex.  Other cultural reasons for the condemnation were its association with soldiers humiliating weaker men by raping them, and body fluids being wasted instead of being used to create babies.  The condemnation was restricted to the ancient biblical cultures who held these views, and it does not apply today because we no longer accept these cultural reasons.  So homosexual activity is NOT a sin today.

Sex between men is therefore okay, and is not a sin, if the men care for each other and no one is harmed.  And they can show their love for each other in other ways too.

Getting the Bible right

A very positive article on homosexuality and the Bible appeared in the Washington Post on 13 Feb 2013.  The author was the Rev. Adam Hamilton, the United Methodist Church pastor who preached the sermon at the 2013 presidential inauguration.



Mr Hamilton believes that in the years ahead an increasing number of Christians, both progressives and conservatives, will read the Bible’s passages condemning homosexuality as all Christians today read the Bible’s passages allowing slavery.

That is, these sexuality passages will be seen as capturing the cultural understandings and practices of sexuality in biblical times, but do not reflect God’s will for gay and lesbian people today.

And sermons preached from pulpits criticising homosexuals today will sound to future generations much like the pro-slavery sermons sound to us today.

You can read the full article here.

Debunking anti-gay arguments

A great article What Do Homophobic Bigots Really Think? telling how to debunk revolting anti-gay arguments, appeared in Slate on August 23, 2012.  The author was Jesse Bering, who has a column in scientificamerican.com.

He covers:
The homosexuality-as-choice argument
The homosexuality-is-disgusting argument
The homosexuality-is-a-mental-illness argument
The homosexuality-is-unnatural-and/or-against-God’s-design argument



Among other things, Bering states that those who repeatedly claim that homosexuality is a choice are actually revealing something about their own sexuality: they are bisexual.

He also points out that one of the most potent propaganda devices is the age-old ploy of dehumanizing an oppressed group by stirring up feelings of disgust for them.

It is worthwhile to read the full article.  It points out why anti-gays make these arguments and gives some points on how to answer them.

False church sign

A 2013 sign at a New York church stated “Never in the history of America did a president make defying God’s word public policy. Lev. 18:22.”  This was a reference to the biblical prohibition of penetrative sex between men.

However, the sign is untrue.  In fact, President Lincoln made defying God’s word public policy when he set about abolishing slavery in the US.  The Bible is very clear that it supports the system of slavery in general (people owning other people).  Primarily, Leviticus 25:44-45 gives God’s general permission for the Israelites to buy slaves.

In the New Testament, Jesus appears to have accepted slavery as part of his society.  He told parable stories with slaves in them, including praising those slaves who serve well.  There is no record of him opposing it.

Paul and the apostles accepted, and implicitly endorsed, the system of slavery and they instructed masters and slaves about their duties (Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:22-25; 4:1; Titus 2:9-10; 1 Peter 2:18-19, 1 Corinthians 7:20-24).  They did not proclaim that slavery was an evil.  Paul even returned a runaway slave to his master (Philemon 1:12).

One hopes that future church signs will be more accurate.  And the biblical acceptance of slavery shows that public policy and law should not always be based on what the Bible says.

When was the gay argument won?

The strongest anti-gay argument is based on saying that the Bible condemns sex between men.  If what the Bible says is always true for all people at all times, then sex between men is bad.

But note that the Bible also accepts that slavery is good.  That is, people can own other people. So if what the Bible says is always true for all people at all times, then slavery is good.

But people in the 19th century decided that slavery was not good after all.  It was bad.  So what the Bible says is not always true for all people at all times.  And so sex between men is not bad.

Therefore the gay argument was effectively won when the anti-slavery argument was won in the 19th century.

Commandments and culture

The Gay and Christian website argues that the biblical condemnation of sex between men doesn’t apply today because it was based on the cultures of bible times.  It therefore only applied to the people of those times.

This argument is valid because it can be applied to other biblical commandments which are similarly based on biblical cultures.  For example, the requirement to take care of widows and the fatherless is based on the fact that such people could not survive without others providing food and helping them in many ways (see Deuteronomy 24:19 and 26:12, Isaiah 1:17 and James 1:27).

However this requirement does not apply to us today because in most modern cultures widows and orphans are taken care of by governments or charitable organisations.

So the cultural argument is valid.

Eunuchs and gay men

It’s possible that Jesus was referring to gay men when he mentioned born eunuchs – without any condemnation (Matthew 19:12).  In Bible times, such men were anatomically whole but were unable or unwilling to have sex with women.  They were either not interested in sex or were attracted to other men.  Also, many or most of the 46 other Biblical references to born or natural eunuchs (sometimes translated as officer or chamberlain) probably include gay men.

The "Born Eunuchs" site, compiled by Faris Malik, has a very detailed look at eunuchs in the ancient world (quoting many sources) and claims that born eunuchs were gay men.

Gays and left-handed

How does being gay (attracted to the same sex) compare to being left-handed?

Well, each is a small percentage of the population – about 5% are gay and about 10% are left-handed.

Both same-sex orientation and left-handedness are slightly more common in men than women.  Both are distributed over the whole population – male and female, young and old.  Both are never absent from any population.



Being attracted to a person of the same sex is not a conscious choice.  And finding it easier to use the left hand is also not a conscious choice.

While acting on same-sex attraction is a conscious choice and using one’s left hand is also a conscious choice, these are natural choices reflecting how a person has been made.

Both left-handedness and same-sex intercourse are sometimes treated as wrong behavior.  Gays are often socially and legally persecuted and discriminated against and left-handed people are sometimes similarly treated.

Some left-handed people have been encouraged by family or teachers to write with their right hand instead of their left hand.  But they still remain basically left-handed.  Similarly, some gays have been encouraged to try to be attracted to the opposite sex.  But they still remain basically attracted to the same sex.

Finally, over time some people have changed their attitudes, revised their views and discarded some prejudices about both gays and left-handed people.

The word homosexual

An entertaining article, “Why Homosexual Is Not a Bad Word”, published in Slate, can be seen here.

Loving relationships don’t go far enough

A number of recent books claim that the Bible either does not refer to committed, loving, monogamous same-sex relationships, or that such relationships are compatible with the Bible.  These claims are made even though the Bible condemns same-sex activity.  The recent books deduce this means that same-sex activity is okay and good if carried out in a committed, loving, monogamous same-sex relationship.

To see that this conclusion is false, substitute “incest” for “same-sex activity”.  You could then say that the Bible does not refer to committed, loving, monogamous incest relationships even though it condemns incest.  So you could deduce that incest is okay and good if carried out in a committed, loving, monogamous relationship.  This is obviously untrue.

Instead of trying (and failing) to justify same-sex activity through loving relationships, it is more logical to say that such activity is justified and good when it causes no harm.  This reflects the no-harm test, based on Romans 13:9-10.

Actually, the recent books also imply that same-sex activity is okay and good only when carried out in a committed, loving, monogamous same-sex relationship.  This is also untrue.  Using the no-harm test, same-sex activity is okay and good in any situation, including casual or recreational sex, when it causes no harm.

Gayness

Two thought-provoking articles about gayness from Slate online magazine.

One by William Saletan, tells how to persuade your antigay religious relatives about gay marriage.  Part of his case is that homosexual attraction itself is natural and that homosexuality is neither sinful nor harmful.  He suggests that homosexual couples should be privileged like infertile couples.  Just as infertile couples are able to marry, so gay couples should be able to marry.

In the other article J. Bryan Lowder shows why being a straight weirdo is, on balance, just not as totalizing or stressful a situation as being a gay person.

Wedding cakes

Timothy Kincaid of Box Turtle Bulletin has come up with an answer to the question of what Jesus would say to Christians who refuse to bake a gay-wedding cake because it implies condoning an immoral lifestyle.

Timothy quotes part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, including “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles” (Matthew 5:41).  In a gay-wedding cake situation, it seems that Jesus would say something like ”If anyone wants to force you to bake a wedding cake, bake them cupcakes as well”.


Difference and sin

In the “Tin Man” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, one of the characters, Tam, says to the android Data “Perhaps you’re just different. It’s not a sin, you know”.

This reflects the title of a book by Rev. Neil Dawson called “Difference Is Not A Sin”, examining the biblical attitude to homosexual behaviour.

Another document with a similar title is "Homosexuality; Not a Sin, Not a Sickness" by Rev. Elder Don Eastman.

(May 2015)

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