The Non-Existent Case Against SSM in the Bible
BY Theresa Seeber
The Clobber Passages are as follows:
- Genesis 19:1-5
- Leviticus 18:22
- Leviticus 20:13
- Deuteronomy 23:17
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
- Romans 1:21-31
- Matthew 19:11-13 is not a “clobber passage”, but is Jesus’ own words on the matter
In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah the people in the town wish to “know” the visitors. Strong’s translation of this word is “used in a great variety of senses, figuratively, literally, euphemistically and inferentially….” (via http://strongsnumbers.com/hebrew/3045.htm ) It basically means to know, comprehend, understand.
The rape attempt upon the visitors that follows does not portray SSM (Same Sex Marriage) in any way. Rape is a form of domination by ancient, uncivilized people – the most Godly of whom offers his virgin daughters up to be raped instead of the visitors. (Rape is still usually done as an act of dominance and control, even in our own civilized time.) Later, in Ezekiel 16, when the story is revisited, it is stated:
“Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.”
This is not a case against Same Sex Marriage.
Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13
“Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable.” 18:22
“If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.” 20:13
The following two passages are here to demonstrate that if we are going to keep the old law, we need to keep it in its entirety. However, we are no longer compelled to do such a thing, now that Christ has justified us.
Galatians 5:1-6 says “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
Matthew 22:36-40 says “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Further, there is no distinction made by Paul or Jesus regarding the difference between a Moral Code and a Holiness Code, one of which we are still to follow, and one we are now liberated from. In fact, in Leviticus 18 we find a list of forbidden sexual activities. They include a broad range of people you should not sleep with, including people of the same sex and women who are menstruating. Between these passages and Leviticus 20:13, which speaks again of same sex activity, we find laws which seem to be of a moral nature, such as “Do not steal. Do not lie…. Do not seek revenge….” (Lev. 19:11, 18) followed closely by “Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.” (Lev. 19:19) These are closely followed by “Do not practice divination or sorcery.” (Lev. 19:26) This is followed closely by “Do not degrade your daughter by making her a prostitute….” (Lev. 19:29) One might say logically that some of the above laws are obviously in regards to ancient Hebrew Holiness, not Morality. Yet they are clearly interwoven with other laws which most people would call moral issues. This brings into question the organization of the two supposed codes. If they exist, they are not placed in any kind of logical fashion to demonstrate a distinction between them. Besides, at the time of their writing the law in its entirety was to be followed with no promise of its future abolishment. Thus, the decision as to which laws are “moral”, and which were abolished at the cross, is left up to the reader.
There has even been much debate historically as to which laws were of the Morality Code and which of the Holiness Code. One example of this is when Thomas Aquinas in the 1200s believed tithing to be in the Holiness Code, saying “Therefore during the time of grace men are not bound to pay tithes.” Many people today believe the tithe to be part of the Moral Code we are still bound to keep, yet many do not. (via: http://books.google.com/books?id=yj0NAQAAIAAJ&pg=PA92&lpg=PA92&dq=aquinas,+tithe&source=bl&ots=3MUbXhYtdk&sig=qkLxfMmaIW1HI3GTN18OcApD1Y4&hl=en&ei=eVm9S72-Ao_2sgOH37GWBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CCYQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q&f=false )
“No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute.” (NIV)
“There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.” (KJV)
This verse is rarely used anymore against homosexuality because its now widely understood that the word Hebrew word qedesh means “a devotee by prostitution” or a “shrine prostitute”. Most versions of the Bible now reflect this translation. Before this however, the King James version read “Sodomite” rather than “temple prostitute”. For those who believed that the sin of the Sodomites was homosexuality, this verse appeared to be condemning homosexuality. You can see from this how errors in translation begin to create a ‘snowball’ affect, compounding an error many times over. (via: http://www.gaychurch.org/gay_and_christian_yes/calling_the_rainbow_nation_home/7e_gac_clobber_passages_shrine_prostitutes.htm )
In http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/qadesh.html we read of the ancient Semitic and Egyptian goddess Qadesh whose name is possibly related to the Hebrew word qedesh, which means “holy woman” of Asherah (aka Quedeshot). Asherah was an ancient idol.
It is clear that this verse has to do not with monogamous SSM, or even homosexuality at all, but rather shrine prostitution.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
“Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders….” (NIV)
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind….” (KJV)
Malakos and Arsenokoitai are the original Greek word used in this verse. They were never translated as homosexual before the 20th century.
Malakos in ancient Greek texts is an adjective used to mean freshly plowed (when re: land), luxurious (when re: clothing) and temple idol slaves or servants (Homer and others). The Latin Vulgate Bible (5th century) translated malakois in Matt 11:8 and Luke 7:25 as mollibus, which means “luxurious” or “effeminate”. It translated malakoi in 1Cor 6:9 as idolis servientes, which means idol slaves or servants. The King James Version, which relied heavily on the Vulgate, translated malakois to “soft” in Matt and Luke, as it was referring to clothing. But in 1Cor, evidently not being happy with “idol servants” they translated malakoi into “effeminate”. This was the first time it was used in this sense. Although many scholars agree that the Latin translators were closer in time and culture than the English ones, (so they would have a better idea of meaning), the KJV translation has stuck.
Arsenokoitai appears twice in scripture, and not at all in classic Greek literature. Nowhere before it that has it survived. It is a compound word, which is a common practice in Greek language. 1 Cor 6:9 uses arsenokoitay and 1Tim 1:10 uses arsenokoitais. The words combined to make the first word are arsen (adjective neuter/singular), o (masculine definite article) and koitay (noun feminine/singular). The second word is the same, except that koitais is feminine/plural.
The Greek language is gender specific. These words have feminine endings which means they refer to something female. But the word parts are varied. Arsen means “male”, o is the male definite article (the), and koitey (the root of koitay and koitais), means “bed” or “place where koitus (coitus) occurs”. Some presume “female’s bed” since it is feminine.
No-one is really sure what was being communicated here. The KJV used “the abusers of themselves with mankind”. The NIV went with “homosexual offenders”. The NRSV went with “sodomites”. The notion of “men in a bed together” is not literal at all, but shows the same bias as KJV, by assuming a lot of things that the Greek, or Latin, doesn’t say.
But the Vulgate, translated 1000 years earlier, and closer to the original culture, translated it to “adulterer” in the female tense. One could argue that this doubles up on the earlier use of adulterer appearing in the same verse, but the other one is male tense.
If Paul had meant to say homosexual he would have used the word attributed to it at the time: paiderasste. Some translations even use the word Sodomites, which later became a blanket statement for people who behaved the way the Sodomites did, but only much later did it become a blanket statement for all homosexual activity. As we already discussed, the “way the Sodomites behaved” had nothing to do with SSM, but rather control, rape and other detestable things. Still, Paul did not use either of these terms in this passage. (via: http://www.soulforce.org/forums/showthread.php?t=6323 )
Paul R. Johnson in “Second Stone” magazine wrote an article called “A New Look at Arsenokoitais” (1994 January/February issue). In this article he wrote:
“The Greek compound term arseno-koitais literally means ‘the male who has many beds’. The word arsen means ‘male’, the adjective o means ‘the’, and the term koitais is defined as ‘many beds’. Thus, the entire phrase means a male with multiple bed-partners; a promiscuous man. Everywhere that the word koitais is used in the plural in the Bible denotes promiscuity. However, when the same word is used in the singular form, the Bible gives approval because the singular denotes monogamy.” http://www.gaychurch.org/gay_and_christian_yes/calling_the_rainbow_nation_home/7c_gac_clobber_passages_arsenokoitais.htm
When read in its full context we see that Paul is talking about a group of people who had originally been Christians, but had given way to what is translated in the NIV as “shameful lusts” (v 26). This entire segment of Romans is about people who have denied God, for “his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (v 20) His wrath is being poured out on them because they “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator…. Because of this God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned their natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another….” (v 23-27) God then gives them over to a depraved mind which includes all kinds of heinous things ranging from greed, to disobedience of parents, to murder and God-hatred.
(What follows immediately after this is the warning not to judge others for their sin, by the way, which is very interesting placement in my opinion.)
The original Greek word for shameful lusts is not a word used to describe the kind of passion or lust one experiences in a marriage or dating relationship, but is a word used to describe the frenzied state of mind brought about by drugs, wine and music during ancient “mystery cult” worship. When the people described here forsake the natural for the unnatural they are forsaking what is natural to them. It may seem foreign to us today, but a common practice of ancient ritualistic cult worship was to have promiscuous sex with members of both the opposite and the same sex. This passage says absolutely nothing to monogamous SSM, just as every other sexual reference in the Bible before it.
This is a picture of promiscuity and idol worship, committed by a people who have forsaken God and turned from him into depravity.
In ancient Roman society at this time it was also common practice for people to be in monogamous gay relationships outside of temple worship. It was separate from the temple worship and it was fully accepted and normative in ancient Roman society.
It is important to note that even in the animal kingdom there are natural occurrences of same sex partnering, even for a life-long term. What is natural to one is not the same as what is natural to another.
“Although some people may feel a sense of security in looking to the Bible for definitive guidance on what constitutes sin for LGBT people … the problem is that there is a wide spectrum of views among Biblical scholars and Christian theologians about how to interpret the Hebrew and Greek words of the original Biblical texts that refer to same-sex and gender-variant activity.
Natural Law Argument: Take, for example, the natural law argument that homosexuality is wrong because it does not lead to procreation. According to natural law theorists going back to the Middle Ages, anyone can observe the animal kingdom and conclude that God’s intended purpose for sexual activity is procreation. Because same-sex activity does not lead to procreation, it is a violation of God’s natural laws and is thus sinful.
The problem with this natural law argument, of course, is that scientists and biologists now know that non-procreative same-sex activity occurs in over a thousand species in the animal kingdom. Furthermore, the natural law argument does not take into account the fact that infertile and elderly people can have non-procreative sex, and yet they are not considered to be sinners or intrinsically disordered. Again, natural law arguments are not as simple or as obvious as they may first appear.” (via: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-patrick-s-cheng-phd/sin-as-the-closet-grace-a_b_510437.html )
The only reference Jesus made to gay people was “For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” Some eunuchs born that way? Ever hear of someone born without private parts? So common Jesus would preach about them? No, these are gay people. Men who don’t have sex with women are eunuchs. Some are born that way, Jesus said. Some are made that way by men – these have lost their family jewels so to speak and can’t have sex with women. Some have renounced marriage for the kingdom, so they don’t have sex with women either. We can’t even say that must mean gays who choose celibacy because it’s a sin, because Paul himself was a man who was a eunuch by choice for the kingdom – a man set on not being married, thus a man who does not have sex with women. So what is Jesus’ teaching on this? Does he say anything about sin at this point? No, he does not. He says that this is a hard teaching, that not everyone can accept this word, but that those who can should.
Theresa Seeber is a bisexual woman in California, happily married to a wonderful man named David. They have four awesome children, who Theresa homeschools. She is passionate about bringing the love of Jesus to the hurting people of the world, and adamant that the Kingdom of God is not something we must wait until the afterlife to attain. She blogs at http://eyesofhope.wordpress.com/ where she recently wrote a post called “If you are gay, know this: Jesus loves you.” Just after high school she was encouraged to “pray away the gay” and thought God had delivered her. He had, indeed, delivered her from many of the lustful temptations she had been struggling with, and she then inadvertently went “into the closet” thinking she was no longer bisexual. Theresa recently came back out.