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RedPowerLady's avatar

Would you please help me make this argument regarding homosexual intimacy and religion (no i'm not on the neverending soapbox)

Asked by RedPowerLady (12576points) December 1st, 2010

Okay in the interest of human rights I’ve been faking a little bit. Faking like I know something about the Bible…. Oops. There were some very mean-spirited remarks on a friend’s facebook page and with the friend’s permission I have engaged in a conversation about them with the poster. Surprisingly the poster is willing to hear what I have to say. But I’m stuck.

I think this is the short version: Original post by friend: “God loves everyone including gays, illegal immigrants, etc… so please love them as well”. The response that was mean-spirited said basically “well gays are an exception because they commit sins over and over and they don’t apologize for it”. Then I said that she should love them no matter what and stop judging. She said it’s not judging it’s calling a spade a spade. I said it is judging because its stereotyping. She conceded that it was stereotyping. But that she believes gay sex is a sin. I said she can believe whatever she wants so long as she doesn’t use it to hurt others. And that we all commit sins so don’t spread the hate. And I said something else , trying to get on her track of thinking, that even though I don’t believe it is a sin , that “gays” could apologize for their sins and thus be forgiven (she implied in almost every post that they couldn’t because the sex is a repeat offense).

Okay so her last response was this “If you look at the old testament in its list of do’s and don’ts, you will see that there are somethings that get you a mild punishment, there are things that will get you banished, there are things that will give you a death by stoning. Then there are a very very few things within the stoning level sins that are labeled as an “abomination”. Please tell me why gay sex is listed as so much more bad than the other stoning offenses.”

What does this even mean and how can I respond? The only reason I put so much effort into it is because she is actually listening to me so perhaps I can plant a seed.

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41 Answers

chyna's avatar

First, there are no levels of sin. A sin is a sin is a sin. A murderer that asks forgiveness doesn’t get a lower place in heaven than someone who sins by stealing food. Ask the person to direct you to these passages.

iamthemob's avatar

Since she appears to be listening, here are some things for you all to look at:

(1) The use of abomination depends on the translation of the Bible she’s using, and therefore it’s questionable to use it as part of a “ranking” system.

(2) There is a difference in how Christians approach how homosexuality is treated in the bible

(3) The New Testament contains completely different issues regarding translation.

(4) The New Testament application of Old Testament law is not clear-cut.

(5) Point her to this site regarding the six passages used to condemn homosexuality.

Humorous so maybe not helpful is godhatesshrimp, a website that shows how the language regarding shellfish is the same as the language regarding gay sex…at least in the translation. Also, here is a site about what the Bible says and doesn’t say about homosexuality that might be useful.

bkcunningham1's avatar

Strong’s Concordance show’s the Hebrew word for “abonimation”, tow`ebah, to mean: in ethical sense (of wickedness etc).

Supacase's avatar

Ummm, I’m no expert, but I think this is pretty much the whole reason Jesus came in the first place. John 3:16 and all that…

This site – All About God sums up what I would say in your spot.

Jesus Christ died on the cross at Calvary in our place so that our sins may be forgiven. His suffering paid for our transgressions. “For this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28).

In His love, God knew that our conscience needed to be freed from guilt and condemnation. He knew that forgiveness of sins was our greatest need. In the ultimate act of love, God not only suffered the pain of our wrongs, but also paid for their consequences in order that we may have forgiveness offered to us when we sin. All we need to do is to accept His free gift of forgiveness.

Qingu's avatar

The passage in Leviticus that says homosexuality is an abomination punishable by death comes a few chapters before a passage that says you can purchase slaves from foreigners and pass them down to your children. (25:45)

As for stoning offenses in the old testament, well…

• Numbers 15:33. If someone works, even just by gathering sticks, on the Sabbath, stone them to death.

• Dt. 13:6. If someone tries to convert you to another religion, even if it’s your own family member, stone them to death.

• Dt. 21:28. Stone disobedient children to death.

• Dt. 22:20. If a woman is unable to prove her virginity on her wedding night, stone her to death. On the doorstep of her father’s house.

Oh, and the Old Testament also commands genocide (Dt. 20:16, the entire book of Joshua).

The question you should be asking is why should anyone give a fuck what the Old Testament says? Why is she claiming this barbaric book—the only religious text to command genocide—has any relevance to her moral system?

And if she still wants to believe in it, does she complain about nonvirgin newlyweds, disobedient children, and unbelievers too, or just the gays?

bkcunningham1's avatar

Christ shed his blood as a new testament or new covenant. Testament is translated “covenant”, the Hebrew word berît, and the Greek noun diathēkē. A covenant is “a solemn commitment guaranteeing promises or obligations undertaken by one or both covenanting parties”

The covenant is his blood covers our sins. No more sacrifces of animals offered up to God. Christ is our sacrificial lamb.

Christ said he didn’t come to change anything about the laws, which is what the person on FB is referring to.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”

“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least Commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the Kingdom of heaven.”

Qingu's avatar

@bkcunningham1, correct, which is why we should pay about as much attention to Jesus as we do to any other ancient cult leader.

Anyone who says we should follow laws and teach people to follow laws condoning slavery, misogyny, and genocide, so that we’re known as “greatest in the kingdom of heaven,” is either a psychopath or doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about.

bkcunningham1's avatar

You think Jesus was an ancient cult leader?

RedPowerLady's avatar

Thanks for the help. :)

Qingu's avatar

Of course Jesus was an ancient cult leader. That’s why his sect resembled other Greek/Roman mystery cults.

Supacase's avatar

@bkcunningham1 So the laws didn’t change, only the ability to be forgiven for breaking them? Am I understanding that correctly?

submariner's avatar

@bkcunningham Some interpret that passage to mean that the old law was fulfilled in Jesus’s death and resurrection. It must have been fulfilled somehow, since Christians don’t have to circumcise boys or refuse to eat pork, etc.

OP: I read somewhere that “abomination” and “fornication” in the OT might have originally referred to the practices of the Canaanite idolators, which included forced prostitution of women and boys in their temples. Sorry I can’t provide a reference. In Paul’s time, the sexual (and especially the homosexual) practices of the Romans were also often coercive and exploitive.

Edit: I guess my point is that the paradigms of homosexuality that both the OT and NT writers were most familiar with were not loving consensual unions . . . something for both believers and non-believers to think about.

crisw's avatar

@submariner

“Some interpret that passage to mean that the old law was fulfilled in Jesus’s death and resurrection. It must have been fulfilled somehow, since Christians don’t have to circumcise boys or refuse to eat pork, etc.”

I think most of this is just sheer convenience. Most fundamentalist Christians ignore the laws that inconvenience them personally (no bacon, no mixed fibers, no working on the Sabbath, no graven images, no shrimp, no coveting) but froth over the laws that they use to gain power over others (no gay sex, no abortions.)

Qingu's avatar

There are no laws against abortion in the Bible, actually.

In fact, Exodus 21:22 explicitly says that an unborn fetus is not morally equivalent to a human being (well, a nonslave Hebrew human being at least). Killing a fetus is punished with a fine; whereas killing or injuring a human being is punished with eye-for-an-eye.

I don’t know where the anti-abortion thing in Christianity came from. iirc, the early Christian elders wrote against it, though. Maybe they inherited it from the Greeks? The Hippocratic oath is anti-abortion.

lillycoyote's avatar

@iamthemob makes some very good points. And there are a lot of scholarly arguments as to what the very few passages in the Bible that are supposed to be about homosexuality actually mean and I am not qualified to argue those but my main argument again “bible believing” Christians is that there are two very important places in the bible where any condemnation of homosexuality is “conspicuous in its absence” and those are:

1) The Ten Commandments. If homosexuality is such a sin, such a terrible abomination, one that people should get themselves so worked up about, why didn’t God find a place for it in the Ten Commandments? He didn’t seem to think that murder and stealing were so obviously wrong that they didn’t need mentioning. He wasn’t necessarily squeamish about discussing sexual relationships because he finds a spot in the commandments for adultery. And then there is the whole coveting thing. If God was determined to keep it down to ten, if homosexuality was such a terrible, god-awful abomination then it seems that God could have made one of the commandents a prohibition against homosexuality, but He didn’t; he chose coveting.

2) The Gospels. Jesus had absolutely nothing to say, not word one about homosexuality, at least according to the Bible, the Gospels and Jesus had a lot to say about a lot of things, he wasn’t exactly shy about speaking his mind. If homosexuality was such a big deal why did Jesus have absolutely nothing, nothing at all to say on the subject? There are a number of passages in the Gospels where Jesus talks about divorce, and by the way, he was pretty much against it, except in cases of adultery, but whenever Christians get all bent out of shape about homosexuality they tend to say that it is going to destroy “traditional marriage” when the people who are actually threatening the institution of “traditional marriage” are heterosexual married people who are divorcing right and left.

If they want a Biblical bases for defending traditional marriage they should be lobbying to make divorce illegal, not homosexuality or homosexual marriage. Anyway, that’s kind of my non-scholarly take on it.

bkcunningham1's avatar

Obviously our society does not execute gays and lesbians, and we are supposed to live by the laws of our land (Titus 3:1, 1st Pet 2:13–16). Homosexuality is also spoken against in the New Testament but there is no death penalty mentioned. I only state that because there are ‘unbalanced’ people who would read something into that. No one could be condemned under God’s law without a trial: “One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” (Deut 19:15), and we don’t try homosexuals in our day so don’t anyone think that I am advocating death penalties for gays. In fact, in the Old Testament the sin of adultery also carries a death sentence, as does idolatry… Enough said about that. God will do the judging and He will administer punish in a number of ways.

.

Qingu's avatar

Would you agree that it’s a good thing that modern society is not based on God’s laws in the Bible? (which call for the execution of gays, and others?)

iamthemob's avatar

When it comes down to it, according to the bible, all non-reproductive sexual activity is pretty much all the same.

Essentially – sex is bad. Babies are good though, so you have to do that bad thing to get them.

I would be interested to see, and I don’t know if there is a single passage, where the act of sex is described as a celebratory thing outside the context of reproduction.

Qingu's avatar

I believe the Song of Solomon gets pretty excited about the sex. Though that is largely in the context of “look at how attractive my wife-property is.”

iamthemob's avatar

Yeah – that’s always been the black sheet of the bible. ;-)

Of course, there’s always the argument that it’s about God’s love for mankind.

bkcunningham1's avatar

The story of King David, who God said was a man after His own heart, had a sexy thing for Bathsheba. II Samuel 11:2. Of course, you need to understand the context of a Bible verse. With any other subject, you need to know the background. But David was a very sexual man.

Proverbs 5:18, Let thy fountain be blessed : and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 19 Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love. 20 And why wilt thou, my son, be ravished with a strange woman , and embrace the bosom of a stranger?

There are many, many more examples. Think about this. We are humans who enjoy sexual pleasures with someone we love. Our ancestor were no different. Why would they be? Of course the Bible records the generations of children born. That is where we come to the promise and birth of Christ.

Look at the story of Abraham and Sarai. An old couple 100 and 90 years old respectively. They were having sex without ever having children or without any hope of having children. When God said they would bear a child, (not just any child, a child with whom God would make an everlasting covenant) Abraham fell on his face and laughed.

bkcunningham1's avatar

Qingu, I would agree that everything that God has promised and said has come to pass in the timeframe and manner He set about before the foundations of the earth were laid and it is a good thing. A perfect thing really. He designed the stars and the heavens and has a plan. God knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb and He has a plan for each of us. Sometimes we don’t see the exact plan and get confused and lost. But that is okay. He is still looking out for us if we believe and call upon His name he will guide our steps.

Qingu's avatar

Just following orders, then?

I am truly sorry you have such unquestioning faith in a deity that is not only obviously fictional but is uniquely genocidal in world religions. One hopes that you don’t seriously believe what you just said and that, if the opportunity to obey such Biblical laws presented itself to you, you would act like a decent and empathetic human being.

bkcunningham1's avatar

You would hope that I would be as emphathetical and decent as you Qingu when doing something as simple as having a discussion with a stranger or encountering a different point of view or belief system?

Qingu's avatar

I don’t think being slightly ornery on the internet is really comparable to supporting laws that call for the death of unbelievers, homosexuals, disobedient children, nonvirgin women, and ethnic cleansing.

squirbel's avatar

Why is everyone focusing on Christianity? Why not look to see how other religions/cultures condemn homosexuality? Christianity is not the only ‘truth’ on this planet.

By examining these things, you will find a foolproof answer. Proceed as you are now, and you will fall into the trap of hating something because it does not jibe with your own beliefs.

crisw's avatar

@squirbel

The OP very specifically stated that she was having a discussion with an acquaintance about Christianity. That’s why this discussion is focused on Christianity. If she had been having a discussion on Islam, things would have been different.

squirbel's avatar

But if she finds the universal answer, it will be easily applicable to Christianity.

Do you dare to correct me when I wasn’t wrong, @crisw ? I pointed out a truth, and attempted to prevent the topic from derailing into a hate thread.

crisw's avatar

@squirbel

You asked why everyone was focusing on Christianity. I answered specifically that question. It was not a correction. Calm down, please.

iamthemob's avatar

@squirbel – the OP was, indeed, asking about Christianity and biblical arguments – in fact, while mentioning previous defense of Christianity and was only dealing with a particular anti-gay argument based on the bible.

Bringing in other religions would, in fact, be what would derailing the thread. So…it wasn’t really “true” because you were pointing out something without apparently understanding the reason why it was limited to Christianity.

squirbel's avatar

No, you are both missing the point of my statement.

In searching for the answer among the other religions/cultures, you will come upon a universal truth that can be translated into any religious language. This is the crux of my statement, and I wasn’t mincing words.

The thread was derailing into a hate thread, and mine was an effort to show some light on the situation.

iamthemob's avatar

@squirbel – no, it wasn’t. I step in as well when there’s just blatant Christian bashing (or the suggestion of it) going on (consider this).

The person the OP was talking to was only going to be listening to a perspective based on biblical arguments and Christian thought. Therefore, discussion of other religions/cultures doesn’t help for the solution here.

We’re not looking for universals in this case…but really specific counterpoints to the arguments the OP was facebooking with.

I agree with you generally. However, because of the particular nature of the argument, this wasn’t derailing into a hate thread. It was meant to be all about one side.

bkcunningham1's avatar

Just for the sake of enlightenment, let’s take a look at how religions other than Judeo – Christians view homosexuality.

Bahá’í: Homosexuality is spiritual condemnation. The Baha’i Faith teaches that homosexual behavior is unacceptable among its members. Voting rights of some of their lesbian, gay and bisexual members (LGB) who are out of the “closet” have been suspended; some memberships have been terminated.

Buddhism: In many Asian countries, cultural influences cause many Buddhists to continue of a long tradition of considering same-sex behavior to be a form of sexual misconduct, no matter what the nature of the relationship is.

Islam: All Islamic schools of thought and jurisprudence consider gay acts to be unlawful. The Companions of Prophet Muhammad held various views concerning punishment. The fatwa cited by IslamOnline.net states:

”....this led to different views maintained by Muslim Jurists. For example:

In the Hanafi school of thought, the homosexual is punished through harsh beating, and if he/she repeats the act, death penalty is to be applied.

As for the Shafi`i school of thought, the homosexual receives the same punishment of adultery (if he/she is married) or fornication (if not married). This means, that if the homosexual is married, he/she is stoned to death, while if single, he/she is whipped 100 times.

Church of Scientology: “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.” 1 It has never gone out of print since. It had sold over 17 million copies worldwide by mid-2004. 8 Book 2, Chapter 5, Page 120 says, in part:

“The sexual pervert (and by this term Dianetics, to be brief, includes any and all forms of deviation in dynamic two such as homosexuality, lesbianism [sic], sexual sadism, etc., and all down the catalog of Ellis and Krafft-Ebing) is actually quite ill physically.”

Theosophical Society: Theosophist create their own spiritual paths. Madame Blavatsky’s writing relating to a shift to asexuality for students of Theosophy:

”...but the real adepts – as we are reliably informed – are the most happy of mankind, since their pleasures are connected with the higher existence, which is cloudless and painless. The earliest among the changes felt by the true Chela [student] is a sense of unmixed joy to be rid of the caring cares of common life, and to exist in the light of a supremely great Ideal. Not that any true adept would say aught against the naturalness and sacredness of pure sexual relationships; but that, to become an adept one must expand the finite into the Infinite, the personal into the Universal, man into Parabrahm – if one so choose to designate that Thing Unspeakable.”

Unitarian Universalist Association: This group’s 250,000 or so members advocate equal rights for gays and lesbians, including the right to marry.

Zoroastrian faith: has historically been strongly opposed to homosexual behavior. Zarathustra’s writings, the Gathas, are silent on homosexuality or bisexuality. They tend to give broad guidance on basic principles without going heavily into commandments.

The Zoroastrian law book, The Vendidad (written circa 250 to 650 CE) contains “laws against demons” which touch on homosexuality. These purity laws are still followed by some conservative Zoroastrian communities. The Vendidad states:

“The man that lies with mankind as man lies with womankind, or as woman lies with mankind, is the man that is a Daeva [demon]; this one is the man that is a worshipper of the Daevas, that is a male paramour of the Daevas”

An ancient commentary on the Vendidad states:

“Four men can be put to death by any one without an order from the Dastur [high priest]: the corpse-burner, the highwayman, the sodomite, and the criminal taken in the deed.”

iamthemob's avatar

@bkcunningham1 – awesome. I think that Buddhism probably would be more negative about homosexual activity in its philosophy as I understand the goal is to stop being distracted by material and physical desire.

So, that said…;-)

bkcunningham1's avatar

Actually, the Fourth Step on the Eightfold Path is Right Behavior: “Do not destroy any living creature; take only what is given to you; do not commit any unlawful sexual act.” Unlawful sexual act isn’t clearly defined.

Dalai Lama said; ‘From a Buddhist point of view (lesbian and gay sex)...is generally considered sexual misconduct.’

The Second Step on the Eightfold Path is Right Resolve: “You must renounce the pleasures of the senses; you must harbor no ill will toward anyone and harm no living creature.”

iamthemob's avatar

Renouncing the pleasures of the senses would include sexual pleasure – so regardless of the definition of lawful (I assume generally abusive in that context) the Second Step sort of negates all sexual acts.

But this is a discussion for another thread…

bkcunningham1's avatar

Not to push the envelope and go further off the subject, but if you are interested, here is a beautiful, IMHO, explanation:

http://heartlandsg.org/2006/12/30/buddhism-and-homosexuality-reply-by-ven-dr-k-sri-dhammananda/

lillycoyote's avatar

Also, not all Christian denominations and churches condemn homosexuality. There are many which don’t. For example, the Evangelical Lutheran Church ordains gay and lesbian clergy who are in committed monogamous relationships. Here is a Wikipedia article on LGBT affirming Christian denominations.

You will also find some interesting and useful discussions of homosexuality, the Bible and Christian theology on the website of Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons

This one, A Heterosexual Jewish Rebbe’s View on the (Supposedly) Homosexual Texts in the Hebrew Bible, from their site is particularly good, I think.

And to answer @Qingu‘s question: “Would you agree that it’s a good thing that modern society is not based on God’s laws in the Bible?”… there’s a very funny book by A.J. Jacobs called The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible. He tries to follow Old Testament laws to the letter and is, as you might imagine, not terribly successful at it.

bkcunningham1's avatar

Sexual activity using the body, both are strong expressions of lust which increase desire for life and therefore trap us longer in Samsara, this is a belief in Buddhism.

iamthemob's avatar

I don’t know if bringing gnostic Christian ideas into the mix would be helpful…but it might.

The basic difference that some say separates gnosticism and orthodox Christianity was that the orthodoxy was moving toward a limited, clear statement of biblical law and a coherent concept of the church, whereas gnosticism favored pursuit of knowledge and God through thought instead of straight faith, and privileged the personal over the hierarchy.

Qingu's avatar

@squirbel, why on earth do you think a “universal truth” could be found by examining the tribal screeds of bronze-age savages?

Here’s another “universal truth” found in almost all religious traditions: the sun revolves around the earth. And another one: women are worth less than men and should be treated as men’s property. Most religions have historically been plenty okay with slavery, too.

Do you think all moral values should be determined by popularity? Or just this one about gays?

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