With the Columbus Pride Festival coming up this weekend, LGBT people from around the country (including George Takei as Grand Marshal for events this year) will be descending upon Columbus for a huge parade and festival to celebrate their sexual orientations, fight discrimination and injustice, and to push for same-sex marriage in Ohio, which is on the ballot this year. It’s sure to be a great time for many.

For some though, the Pride Festival will not be so welcome, and while Columbus may be one of the Midwest’s LGBT hotspots, there is the very real chance that protesters will show up and decry what they see as perversion, sin a horrible lifestyle, or some sort of disease/genetic defect/psychological disorder. Usually I ignore these sorts of people, but I figured that since I’ll most likely be attending the Pride Festival this year (my first), I thought it would be interesting to do a post on these protestors, most of whom have a Biblical basis for why they’re opposed to homosexuality, and show how the Bible could actually endorse homosexuality rather than outright ban it.

Before I do though, I wanted to post this video I found, which I think is very eye-opening, and gives some very good points on the Bible and homosexuality:

Interesting, isn’t it? And that thing about Sodom and Gomorrah mirrors pretty closely what I learned growing up about why those cities were destroyed. In fact, I remember a pretty graphic tale about how two girls met at a well, one realized the other’s family was very poor and gave her some flour for her family. When the town elders heard about it, they basically took the first girl and stoned her in public (I’m not sure what happened to the second girl, but she probably came away from that emotionally scarred and still hungry, if not dead). And if you want to know more about that book they talked about in the video, here’s a TIME magazine article on it.

I would like to add some points on to these, based on my own upbringing, experience, and understanding of the Old Testament (I’m not very familiar with the New Testament of course, being Jewish). First, that famous verse in Leviticus that anti-gay pastors love to quote, “Thou shall not sleep with a man as thou sleeps with a woman”. First off, what can women do? Second, this sounds like a prohibition against homosexuality, but it could have other meanings.

Of course, there’s the anatomical one: men can’t sleep with other men like they can with women, because men don’t have vaginas. But I’m pretty sure that argument, although obvious, won’t sway many people, so here’s two more that might. Firstly, there’s the patriarchal argument: women in the days when the Bible was written were expected to attend to their husband’s sexual needs, and most likely that meant they had no say in it unless they were impure and couldn’t have sex anyway. In an age where men were expected to be dominant in all matters, especially in the home, forcing one man to attend to another man’s sexual needs at the latter’s beck and call would be considered the ultimate emasculation, so therefore sex between men was forbidden.

The other reason (and the one I feel makes the most sense), is based on pagan idol worship. Many Near East and Mediterranean societies practiced homosexuality, not as a distinct orientation, but as an activity. The Greeks were famous for having relationships between other males before marriage, and there were other societies at the time that had cultures that permitted men to have relationships with each other before or after marriage. Some of these relationships were especially prevalent in military circles to increase unit cohesion, and a few were ritualized in the form of idol worship. God would have seen this latter act, worship of idols through sexual intercourse, as detestable, so He created a form of worship and sacrifice that did not involve sex, and forbade a form of sex that does not lead to procreation, as well as because it was used in idol worship.

There’s a pretty big difference between this and emasculation or idol worship, wouldn’t you say?

Since today there is no idol worship through sex (as far as I know), it would be permissible for same-sex relations to occur. Besides, these interpretations deal with a form of emasculation or idol worship. They do not apply to men, women, or other gender-types who are in loving, committed relationships like we see today.

There are other factors to consider here as well. For example, there is the belief that marriage should be as it is in the Bible. If that’s the case though, why do we outlaw polygamy and women can choose who they marry? Not to mention the definition of marriage and marriage roles have changed throughout the years, so it’s no surprise that it’s being changed in our day and age and “pro-marriage” activists shouldn’t be alarmed. And even if not always legally accepted or endorsed by religious establishments, same-sex relationships have been taking place for many, many years. There have been relationships between high-ranking clergymen and other men since the early days of the Church, but it was tolerated because of fear of worse sins, ones that at the time that were considered venereal.

Even during waves of religious upheaval, reformation, or resurgence, same-sex relationships flourished: Queen Elizabeth may have been a lesbian, and several members of her court were gay and able to get away with it due to their status. King James–of the Bible translation–actually had several relationships with men as well as women. And recently there was an article from The Boston Globe about two women who lived together and were treated as married…in 1807! So even if it’s not exactly legal, same-sex marriage is not exactly as new as cell phones.

This post is getting very long, so I’m going to continue this discussion in another one. I hope some of you who read this post found it informative and may have given you some food for thought. I don’t think it’ll sway anyone who’ll protest at Pride this weekend, but it may sway some people who are undecided on the issue. Or that it may prove helpful for those who want to try to reconcile homosexuality with religion.

Oh, and before you wonder what sort of religious authority I am, I can only say that I’m the son of two Conservative rabbis, I went to a Jewish day school from Grades 4-12, I’ve gone to synagogue for most of my life, and I still learn and keep in touch with my religion. So I may not be a rabbi or pastor, but I’ve done as much studying as some, and more than some others. I guess I can speak with some authority on these matters. What do you say?

*I will be screening the comments for offensive, inappropriate, or just plain rude comments. Be warned.*

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Comments
  1. Well argued. I especially love the argument that “marriage should not be redefined” and “it has always been a sacrament between a man and a woman”. This is fundamentally (pardon the pun) BS, since marriage in the ancient Levant was a transaction between a father and would-be suitor. And consistent with laws regarding property, it was governed by the same basic rules and regulations as the transfer of goods from one man to another. Even the marriage ceremony, where the father “gives the bride away” and the lifting of the veil to confirm the bride’s true identity, are part of this tradition. It symbolizes that the father is giving away his daughter to a man, but in this case, he’s paying HIM to take her.

    • I’m pretty sure most people in the US are glad that’s changed! Who would want to marry someone their parents picked for you, like an outfit they picked out for you at Sears? I’d be horrified!

  2. I know this is an old post, but I just found it 😉

    I think that 99% of those Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers “laws” are interpreted wrong. For instance the one anti-religious people love to quote about a bride’s blood spotted bed sheet being hung out the next morning, rather than some kind of persecution against the woman, i think it was more protection – her husband couldn’t pop up a year later and claim “she wasn’t a virgin, so I want a divorce” because everyone knew better and, if he instead said “well, we faked it” then that means he went along with the “lie” so what else is he lying about?
    I think the so-called anti-same-sex “laws” were there simply because they were trying to build a society and so they needed as many new born children as possible (especially considering how few made it to adulthood). Rather than it being something “sinful” or “horrible” they were simply saying “yo, we need babies guys, and you can’t get babies that way! hup hup!” We no longer “need” all those babies, just as we no longer need the “protection” of “proving” women were virgins, and to hang onto it as “law” is as ridiculous as it would be to use Ancient Roman laws. None of it has anything to do with worshiping God, they just wrapped that stuff in a “religious” coating to “make” people follow the “rules” because if you said “this is for your own good” who would have listened? But to say “follow this or burn in hell!” well, now you have their attention.

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