RE: An interesting essay for evangelicals

From: Alexanian, Moorad (
Date: Wed Jan 22 2003 - 20:09:19 EST

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    I believe Jesus does address the issue of homosexuality in Mark 10:6-8 “But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH; so they are no longer two, but one flesh.” Jesus certainly defines what Christian marriage is. So much for homosexual marriages! Also in the epistle to the Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul uses Christian marriage to teach the relationship of Christ to the Church, where Paul quotes the above verses, which are actually found in the Old Testament. Moorad

            -----Original Message-----
            From: Robert Schneider []
            Sent: Wed 1/22/2003 4:23 PM
            Subject: Re: An interesting essay for evangelicals

            Burgy may wish to answer Moorad directly (there comments are below).
                Here I would like to comment on these and the other few passages in
            Scripture often cited. First, to the meaning of the word "abomination" in
            the context of the Levitican prohibitions in chapter 18, 20. According to
            John Boswell, the word translated as "abomination" here is the Hebrew
            "toevah," which usually signifies something ritually unclean, and is used
            throughout the OT to signify acts which involve ethnic contamination or
            idolatry. As this prohibition is set within a series of prohibitions
            regarding sexual behavior, in which the Israelites are exhorted to not
            behave as the Egyptians they have fled or the Canaanites they are going to
            be living among, they all have something to do with maintaining purity by
            not engaging in practices found among these two peoples. One could argue
            that Canaanite practice was especially a concern, since they were leaving
            Egypt and had years in the desert to develop social habits rooted in the
            Covenant. I recall that some commentators have claimed that Lev. 18:22
            refers to male temple prostitution in Canaanite cult, and the prohibition
            was intended to deter Israelites from taking part in idolatrous worship. It
            is interesting to note that women are not mentioned with men in this
            prohibition. If this interpretation has any merit, then one should not
            understand it as a general prohibition, especially since it does not include
            female-female sexual acts. I would add that all of the prohibitions in this
            section of the Levitican code would be "abominations" to the Lord, not
            simply men lying with men. I think it is important to understand this
            context, since the word "abomination" in English simply means "greatly
            hateful and disgusting" and and does not convey the notions of idolatry and
            impurity that the Hebrew word it translates does.
                It also ought to be pointed out that outside of the Levitican
            prohibitions, there is a thundering silence throughout the OT about same-sex
            sexual acts. They do not seem to have been a concern that called for
            comment. They do not show up in the prophetic writings; there are no
            stories of such relationships in the historical writings; there are no
            proverbial statements about them. Some reflection on this fact ought to
            form part of the conversation on where the Bible stands on the issue of
            "homosexuality" (using the term to convey both sexual orientation, which the
            Bible says nothing whatever about, and homosexual acts, of which there are
            only these two references in Leviticus, and the threat of homosexual rape in
            Gen. 19).
                As for Rom. 1:26-27, commentators are divided on how to interpret this
            passage. One group insists that it describes the actions of heterosexual
            men and women who engage in homosexual acts, contrary to their nature; thus
            it should not be interpreted to include homosexuals, especially when they
            are in committed and non-promisuous relationships. Other commentators
            dispute this and claim that it is describing any homosexual act or
            relationship. It should be pointed out that Paul is writing to a Christian
            community in Rome, the heart of a Hellenized Roman Empire. Neither the
            ancient Greeks or Romans would recognize the word "homosexuality." First,
            it is a modern word, coined in the nineteenth century, in fact a Greek-Latin
            hybrid word. Neither ancient Greek or Latin could provide a word that
            conveyed the concept because the ancients didn't have such a concept.
            Second, people didn't identify themselves as exclusively homosexual or
            heterosexual. Men and women were expected to marry and have families, and
            almost all of them did. Among the Greek upper classes men did engage in
            erotic (emotional, and often physical) relationships for often an extended
            period of time before they entered into arranged marriages with women around
            the age of thirty. Since they married women half their age, and found it
            difficult to form peer relationships with their young wives (who might as
            well have been their younger sisters), they often continued such
            relationships with their male lovers for a time after marriage. But they
            didn't conceive of themselves as not marrying or as forming life-long
            homosexual physical attachments. The same was true of the Romans.
            Homosexual acts tended to be even more passing affairs than the alliances
            among Greek men. Long-time committed loving relationships between two men
            or two women outside a heterosexual marriage, such as homosexual couples
            claim today, were not a feature of either ancient culture. The Jewish and
            Gentile Christians in Rome were probably in a better position to understand
            what Paul meant than we are.
                In the NT there are only a couple other passages that refers persons who
            engage in same-sex sexual acts, I Corinthians 6:9 and I Timothy 1:10. The
            first contains the words "malakoi" and "arsenokoitais." The first is
            sometimes wrongly translated as "effeminate," but it does not refer to
            homosexuals. It is a word with a wide variety of meanings. Elsewhere in
            the NT it refers to someone who is ill; Aristotle uses it to refers to
            someone wanting in self-control. The other word, "arsenokoitas," appearing
            also in I Tim. is a very rare word, after an extended study of which Boswell
            concluded that the word refers to male sexual agents, i.e., the male
            prostitutes common in the Greco-Roman cities of his day. The latter
            commented that Paul surely would have viewed such activity with the same
            horror he viewed female prostitution. He also points out that nowhere in
            Greek literature of Paul's time (including Philo) is this word used to
            denote homoexual activity generally.
                Otherwise, the NT is silent. Nowhere in the gospels is Jesus recorded
            as addressing the matter of same sex relations, and there is no hint of such
            relationship in the gospels. (The interpretation of Luke 7 that the
            centurion's slave boy was his lover is without merit, in my view.) Nowhere
            else outside of Rom. 1:26-27 is there any clear and disapproving reference
            to homosexual acts in general (i.e., not bought and sold). Putting both the
            OT and the NT record together, I question where there is sufficient warrent
            to base a moral position on the whole gamut of homosexual acts/relationships
            and "homosexuality" on these few verses. It seems to me that one has to go
            to more general and broader scriptural dicta having to do with moral
            attitudes and acts in order to present a cogent biblical position.
            Something like this was done in the USA during the nineteenth century, by
            those crusading against the evils of liquor and drunkenness. One would get
            nowhere seeking Bible verses against drinking, and enough to argue for its
            approval. The advocates of prohibition had to get around Jesus' changing
            water into wine by basing their biblical argument on other teachings under
            which, they could argue, the prohibition of alchoholic beverages should
            obtain. Whether one can make such an argument regarding homosexual behavior
            remains to be demonstrated, it seems to me, though I would be glad to learn
            if anyone has attempted it.
                Finally, while it's on my mind, I should like to comment on claims that
            there is scientific evidence that genetically, some persons are gay or
            predisposed to homosexual behavior. Restricting my comments simply to the
            scientific question, the claims that I have read and examined I have to say
            are unconvincing. Some of the studies made and published several years ago
            included very small samples; and were carried out by researchers who were
            themselves gay. The degree of caution in interpreting results expressed in
            these published reports has been largely ignored (as we know so often
            happens), since there is a general claim floating around out there that a
            biological basis has been established.
            Grace and peace,
            Bob Schneider
            ----- Original Message -----
            From: "Alexanian, Moorad" <>
            To: "John Burgeson" <>; <>
            Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 1:43 PM
            Subject: RE: An interesting essay for evangelicals
    > Perhaps you can explain these verses to me. "You shall not lie with a male
            as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. " Lev. 18:22. Also, "For
            this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women
            exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same
            way also the men abandoned the natural function 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 of their error." Rom.
    > Moorad
    > -----Original Message-----
    > From: John Burgeson []
    > Sent: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 11:30 AM
    > To: Alexanian, Moorad;
    > Subject: RE: An interesting essay for evangelicals
    > >>Erotic love is limited to different sex partners; anything else is an
    > >>abomination to God. >>
    > That's a claim, of course. And it is that claim which is in question. And
    > is that claim that Roy Clements asked to be debated with civility and with
    > reasoning.
    > Stating the claim without addressing the issue is simply stating an
    > As such, simply not interesting.
    > John W. Burgeson (Burgy)

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