GAY SEX AND THE BIBLE

For thousands of years, some people have used the Bible* (that is, the Hebrew Scriptures, or 'Tanach') to persecute others. The oppression of black people by white and the subjugation of women by men are two examples which, thankfully, are less acceptable now than in earlier times.  The Bible is still often used to justify hating gay people, but the text, when read with care, no more supports gay bashing than racism or sexism.

Confirmed bigots won't be persuaded by anything here, but people of good will who are bothered by what others claim is in the Bible may find this page helpful.

The verse most commonly cited is Leviticus 20:13 "And a man who lies with a male as one would with a woman both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon themselves."

First, note that the verse says nothing about lesbian sex, so cannot be a general ban on homosexuality. Also, a minor point - the word 'abomination' (Hebrew - to'eh'va) is used to describe eating certain foods, having sex during the menstrual flow, or even remarrying a divorced spouse. So anyone who thinks these acceptable and yet condemns gay sex, is taking a hypocritical stance.

The key phrase is "lies (shachav) with a man as with a woman." It you take the verse literally, sex between two men who are both standing is permitted. If you don't take it literally, then you are interpreting in a non-literal way, and should not criticize the  non-literal interpretations of others.

Moreover, from an anatomical viewpoint, it is impossible for a man to have sex with another man the way men have sex with women. So again, if this verse is strictly literal, it cannot be a general prohibition against gay sex.

Tannach uses various terms to indicate sexual activity. Some, such as "knowing" or "uncovering the nakedness of" indicate an active/passive act of penetration or its immediate precursors. But 'shachav' seems to refer to more than just penetration. 'To lie with' implies some degree of reciprocal relationship -- at the very least the activity of getting into the horizontal position with someone else.

A sad fact of Biblical times is that marriage often involved no choice on the woman's part. Unions were often arranged solely by the man and the woman's father. As a result, if a man  wanted lie with his wife, she could not refuse.

Could this be what the Bible refers to -- that any sex between two men be completely consensual and not, like between a man and a woman, with compulsion? . If so, why would the death penalty be involved The idea proposed by some is that these submissive interactions occurred in the setting of homosexual prostitution at a pagan temple. The death sentence would then be for idolatry.

Whatever the intended meaning of this verse (and it certainly is not clear), the literal words do not forbid gay sex. Homophobes should dampen their enthusiasm to blame their intolerance on the Bible. 


GAY MARRIAGE AND THE BIBLE

Many people oppose legalizing gay marriage because they say homosexual unions are not sanctioned by the Bible. Similar arguments have been advanced to forbid interracial marriages, which puts the opponents of gay marriage in a bind. To oppose gay marriage but not intedrracial marriage is, at best, iconsistant. Marriage laws bases on thee Bible would bring disaster becasue they would say:

A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

B. Marriage shall not impede a man's right to take concubines, in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

C. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

D. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe. (Gen. 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)

E. A married woman acccused of adultery will provd her guilt or innocence be drinking aa specific poition and seeing its effect on her.



SODOM AND THE BIBLE

Some preachers saay that gay sex is the 'sin of Sodom,' and warn that if we allow gay marriage, then our society will be destroyed like that Sodom was destroyed.   Genesis speaks of the people of Sodom as not being righteous, and in Chapter 19, we find two examples of this:

5 And they called to Lot, and said to him: 'Where are the men that came to you this night?  Bring them out unto us, and we will 'know' them.'.

Lot then offers his virgin daughters instead, and the Sodom people say:

9 'This one fellow came in to live here, and he will hand down judgments; now it will be worse with you, than with them.' And they pressed on the man Lot, and approached to break the door.

Obviously there is a lot of unrighteousness going on here, but which parts led to Sodom's destruction?  Genesis never specifies.  However, the prophet Ezekiel does specify:

Chapter 16: 49 Behold, this was the sin of your sister Sodom: pride, fullness of bread, and careless ease was in her and in her daughters; nor did she extend a hand to the poor and needy.  50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination before Me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.

Now, if you want to take this at its literal word, the sin of Sodom was being prideful, relaxing with enough to eat and not offering help to those who needed it.  In short, Sodom fell because they didn't care about others.  The story of the threatened rape of Lot's angelic guests is just another example of this; they were ready to violate a crucial part of the relationship with others, one not appreciated so much in our modern era, i.e. respect for guests.

If you want to interpret the 'abomination' as referring to gay sex, there is some wiggle room.  Just remember, that isn't what Ezekiel says -- that the sin was inconsideration.

Actually, we are guilty of that same sin.  We have a growing problem with obesity, while elsewhere people, including children, suffer from starvation.  And we don't care.


 HOMOPHOBIA AND HOMOEROTIC AROUSAL

People often say that those who hate gay people are repressing their own homosexual tendencies, but how can anyone prove such a thing.  It turns out that psychologists at the University of Georgia have proven it by measuring penile expansion of men looking at different erotic pictures.  "Only the homophobic men showed an increase in penile erection to male homosexual stimuli."  The abstract is at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8772014.  The page also has links to similar topics of interest. Another article can be found at http://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(16)00319-2/pdf.


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Revised 2/10

   * I'm sure there are those  who could discuss the Talmudic regulations about gay sex, but I'm not one of them.  Likewise, I leave it to others to analyze statements in the Newbie Testament, the Koran, and other scriptures.  The Hebrew scripture is the one most often quoted, and the one with which I am most familiar.  (Back to top).

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