We are the beloved

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Often Gays have to suffer Bible Punching Believers, Verse Quoting radicals of all faiths. Here a few thoughts and information to argue back with. This may be a case of hope against hope non as blind as those who don’t want to see. Here one of my favorite quotes from Oscar Wilde:

‘A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” (http://scl.io/DSRfv0al#gs.)

 Some verses gays can quote to the bible punching or homophobic terminally straight.

Matthew 19:10-12

The Bible provides three key pieces of textual and circumstantial evidence. First, in the Luke passage, several additional Greek words are used to describe the one who is sick. Luke says this pais was the centurion’s entimos doulos. The word doulos is a generic term for slave, and was never used in ancient Greek to describe a son/boy. Thus, Luke’s account rules out the possibility the sick person was the centurion’s son; his use of doulos makes clear this was a slave. However, Luke also takes care to indicate this was no ordinary slave. The word entimos means “honored.” This was an “honored slave” (entimos doulos) who was his master’s pais. Taken together, the three Greek words preclude the possibility the sick person was either the centurion’s son or an ordinary slave, leaving only one viable option — he was his master’s male lover. (See note 20.)

A second piece of evidence is found in verse 9 of Matthew’s account. In the course of expressing his faith in Jesus’ power to heal by simply speaking, the centurion says, “When I tell my slave to do something, he does it.” By extension, the centurion concludes that Jesus is also able to issue a remote verbal command that must be carried out. When speaking here of his slaves, the centurion uses the word doulos. But when speaking of the one he is asking Jesus to heal, he uses only pais. In other words, when he is quoted in Matthew, the centurion uses pais only when referring to the sick person. He uses a different word, doulos, when speaking of his other slaves, as if to draw a distinction. (In Luke, it is others, not the centurion, who call the sick one an entimos doulos.) Again, the clear implication is that the sick man was no ordinary slave. And when pais was used to describe a servant who was not an ordinary slave, it meant only one thing — a slave who was the master’s male lover.

The third piece of evidence is circumstantial. In the Gospels, we have many examples of people seeking healing for themselves or for family members. But this story is the only example of someone seeking healing for a slave. The actions described are made even more remarkable by the fact that this was a proud Roman centurion (the conqueror/oppressor) who was humbling himself and pleading with a Jewish rabbi (the conquered/oppressed) to heal his slave. The extraordinary lengths to which this man went to seek healing for his slave is much more understandable, from a psychological perspective, if the slave was his beloved companion.

Thus, all the textual and circumstantial evidence in the Gospels points in one direction. For objective observers, the conclusion is inescapable: In this story Jesus healed a man’s male lover. When understood this way, the story takes on a whole new dimension.

Imagine how it may have happened. While stationed in Palestine, the centurion’s pais becomes ill — experiencing some type of life-threatening paralysis. The centurion will stop at nothing to save him. Perhaps a friend tells him of rumors of Jesus’ healing powers. Perhaps this friend also tells him Jesus is unusually open to foreigners, teaching his followers that they should love their enemies, even Roman soldiers. So the centurion decides to take a chance. Jesus was his only hope.

As he made his way to Jesus, he probably worried about the possibility that Jesus, like other Jewish rabbis, would take a dim view of his homosexual relationship. Perhaps he even considered lying. He could simply use the word duolos. That would have been accurate, as far as it went. But the centurion probably figured if Jesus was powerful enough to heal his lover, he was also powerful enough to see through any half-truths.

So the centurion approaches Jesus and bows before him. “Rabbi, my . . . ,” the word gets caught in his throat. This is it — the moment of truth. Either Jesus will turn away in disgust, or something wonderful will happen. So, the centurion clears his throat and speaks again. “Rabbi, my pais — yes, my pais lies at home sick unto death.” Then he pauses and waits for a second that must have seemed like an eternity. The crowd of good, God-fearing people surrounding Jesus probably became tense. This was like a gay man asking a televangelist to heal his lover. What would Jesus do?

Without hesitation, Jesus says, “Then I will come and heal him.”

It’s that simple! Jesus didn’t say, “Are you kidding? I’m not going to heal your pais so you can go on living in sin!” Nor did he say, “Well, it shouldn’t surprise you that your pais is sick; this is God’s judgment on your relationship.”

Instead, Jesus’ words are simple, clear, and liberating for all who have worried about what God thinks of gay relationships. “I will come and heal him.”

At this point, the centurion says there is no need for Jesus to travel to his home. He has faith that Jesus’ word is sufficient. Jesus then turns to the good people standing around him — those who were already dumbfounded that he was willing to heal this man’s male lover. To them, Jesus says in verse 10 of Matthew’s account, “I have not found faith this great anywhere in Israel.” In other words, Jesus holds up this gay centurion as an example of the type of faith others should aspire to.

Jesus didn’t just tolerate this gay centurion. He said he was an example of faith — someone we all should strive to be like.

Then, just so the good, God-fearing people wouldn’t miss his point, Jesus speaks again in verse 11: “I tell you, many will come from the east and the west [i.e., beyond the borders of Israel] to find a seat in the kingdom of heaven, while the heirs [i.e., those considered likely to inherit heaven] will be thrown into outer darkness.” By this statement Jesus affirmed that many others like this gay centurion — those who come from beyond the assumed boundaries of God’s grace — are going to be admitted to the kingdom of heaven. And he also warned that many who think themselves the most likely to be admitted will be left out.

In this story, Jesus restores a gay relationship by a miracle of healing and then holds up a gay man as an example of faith for all to follow. So consider carefully: Who is Lord — Jesus or cultural prejudice?

 

 Genesis 2:24, Ruth 1:14

The same Hebrew word that is used in Genesis 2:24 to describe how Adam felt about Eve (and how spouses are suppose to feel toward each other) is used in Ruth 1:14 to describe how Ruth felt about Naomi. Her feelings are celebrated, not condemned. And throughout Christian history, Ruth’s vow to Naomi has been used to illustrate the nature of the marriage covenant. These words are often read at Christian wedding ceremonies and used in sermons to illustrate the ideal love that spouses should have for one another. The fact that these words were originally spoken by one woman to another tells us a lot about how God feels about same-gender relationships.

 

Jesus said some are born gay. Matthew 19:10-12

Here Jesus refers to “eunuchs who have been so from birth.” This terminology (“born eunuchs”) was used in the ancient world to refer to homosexual men. Jesus indicates that being a “born eunuch” is a gift from God.

 

The early church welcomed a gay man. Acts 8:26-40

In the ancient world, eunuchs were widely associated with homosexuality. Here a self-avowed eunuch is welcomed in to the early church without any concerns about his sexual orientation. He was welcomed on the same basis as other people — his faith in Jesus Christ.

 

David loved Jonathan more than women. II Samuel 1:26

At Jonathan’s funeral, David declares that he loved Jonathan more than any woman. This is just one of several Bible passages that describe and celebrate an intense love between these two men that went well beyond friendship.

 

Idol Worship and Rejection of God. Romans 1:21-28

In these verses, Paul condemns idol worshippers and God haters. According to Paul, these “God haters” experiment with gay sex only as a way of seeking new thrills or in cultic worship. Clearly, he is not speaking about innately gay and lesbian people, who love God and want to honour God while living with integrity as who they are.

 

Israel’s Holiness Code. Leviticus 18 and 20

The chapters that contain these verses are clearly identified as speaking against practices involved in cultic idol worship. The entire passages are generally accepted as not applying to modern Christian life.

 

Sodom and Gomorrah. Genesis 19 & Jude 7

The Genesis 19 account of Sodom and Gomorrah is a story of attempted gang rape of two “outsiders.” It says nothing about loving gay relationships, and actually condemns the sort of violence sometimes done to gays and lesbians. Jude 7 talks about a first century Jewish legend that the women of Sodom had sex with male angels. Since it is about heterosexual sex between angels and humans, it clearly has nothing to do with gay relationships.

From archeological records, we know it was also a common practice in the Near East during ancient times for soldiers to use homosexual rape as a way of humiliating their enemies. (See note 3.) When victorious soldiers wanted to break the spirit of their defeated enemies, they would “treat them like women” by raping them. The practice was not driven by sexual desire, but by brutality and hatred toward the enemy.

The motivation to sexually abuse those we hate is, sadly, part of the general human experience (even if it is not part of each of our personal experiences). And it is this motivation, not homosexual desire, which stands behind the sin of Sodom. Perhaps the men of that city feared the two angelic strangers were spies. Perhaps the fact that Lot (a recent immigrant) had taken them in served to heighten their suspicion. Whatever caused their panic, a mob mentality took over, and before long the people of Sodom were at Lot’s house clamoring to brutalize the strangers. This is a story about attempted mob violence, not homosexual desire.

To test this proposition, let’s ask a simple question. Suppose the two angels in the story had been women, but the story otherwise unfolded exactly the same: The men of Sodom clamored to have sex with the two female angels and God destroyed the city. Do you think anyone would conclude this story was a blanket condemnation of heterosexuality? Of course not! Instead, we all would conclude (correctly) that the wickedness of Sodom was shown by their desire to sexually violate two strangers in their midst.

From archeological records, we know it was also a common practice in the Near East during ancient times for soldiers to use homosexual rape as a way of humiliating their enemies. (See note 3.) When victorious soldiers wanted to break the spirit of their defeated enemies, they would “treat them like women” by raping them. The practice was not driven by sexual desire, but by brutality and hatred toward the enemy.

The motivation to sexually abuse those we hate is, sadly, part of the general human experience (even if it is not part of each of our personal experiences). And it is this motivation, not homosexual desire, which stands behind the sin of Sodom. Perhaps the men of that city feared the two angelic strangers were spies. Perhaps the fact that Lot (a recent immigrant) had taken them in served to heighten their suspicion. Whatever caused their panic, a mob mentality took over, and before long the people of Sodom were at Lot’s house clamoring to brutalize the strangers. This is a story about attempted mob violence, not homosexual desire.

To test this proposition, let’s ask a simple question. Suppose the two angels in the story had been women, but the story otherwise unfolded exactly the same: The men of Sodom clamored to have sex with the two female angels and God destroyed the city. Do you think anyone would conclude this story was a blanket condemnation of heterosexuality? Of course not! Instead, we all would conclude (correctly) that the wickedness of Sodom was shown by their desire to sexually violate two strangers in their midst.

Note 4. Likewise, Jewish scholars did not associate the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah with homosexuality until Philo in the first century AD and not with any measure of consistency until the sixth century. For a good discussion of this see Greenberg, page 201, footnote 91.

Note 5. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New Revised Standard Version.

Note 6. See Deuteronomy 29:23, 32:32; Isaiah 1:9-17, 3:9, 13:19; Jeremiah 23:14, 49:18, 50:40; Lamentations 4:6; Ezekiel 16:46-56; Amos 4:11; and Zephaniah 2:9.

In fact, this is the way other authors of the Bible interpreted this story. (See note 4.) There are about twenty references to the story of Sodom in the Bible, and none of them says homosexuality was the sin of Sodom. One of the most extensive references to Sodom is found in Ezekiel, which says, “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.” (Ezekiel 16:49-50 (See note 5.)) It is clear from this passage (and others like it (See note 6.)) that the abomination of Sodom, according to the Old Testament prophets, was that they behaved with callous indifference toward the weak and vulnerable — the poor, orphans, widows, and strangers in their midst.

Why then do some Christians interpret this story as condemning all homosexual behavior? We would submit that their interpretation is driven by anti-gay prejudice. Many Christians only know the stereotypes they learned in childhood. They buy into the idea that all gay men are predators and that loving relationships between inherently homosexual people do not exist. So they read the story of Sodom and see a stereotype of what they think all gay people are like. They then assume the story must be a sweeping condemnation of homosexuality, because they assume all homosexuality takes the form shown in this story. In truth, this story is at most a condemnation of homosexual rape. And, as other Scriptures affirm, it is more generally a condemnation of the mistreatment of those who are most vulnerable, including strangers. It is ironic that the story of Sodom is now used by Christians to justify hatred toward another vulnerable group — gay people.

This story clearly does not apply to the question we bring to Scripture, namely, whether two persons of the same sex can live in a loving, committed relationship with the blessing of God. So we can take this clobber passage and set it aside.

In fact, this is the way other authors of the Bible interpreted this story. (See note 4.) There are about twenty references to the story of Sodom in the Bible, and none of them says homosexuality was the sin of Sodom. One of the most extensive references to Sodom is found in Ezekiel, which says, “This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.” (Ezekiel 16:49-50 (See note 5.)) It is clear from this passage (and others like it (See note 6.)) that the abomination of Sodom, according to the Old Testament prophets, was that they behaved with callous indifference toward the weak and vulnerable — the poor, orphans, widows, and strangers in their midst.

Why then do some Christians interpret this story as condemning all homosexual behavior? We would submit that their interpretation is driven by anti-gay prejudice. Many Christians only know the stereotypes they learned in childhood. They buy into the idea that all gay men are predators and that loving relationships between inherently homosexual people do not exist. So they read the story of Sodom and see a stereotype of what they think all gay people are like. They then assume the story must be a sweeping condemnation of homosexuality, because they assume all homosexuality takes the form shown in this story. In truth, this story is at most a condemnation of homosexual rape. And, as other Scriptures affirm, it is more generally a condemnation of the mistreatment of those who are most vulnerable, including strangers. It is ironic that the story of Sodom is now used by Christians to justify hatred toward another vulnerable group — gay people.

This story clearly does not apply to the question we bring to Scripture, namely, whether two persons of the same sex can live in a loving, committed relationship with the blessing of God. So we can take this clobber passage and set it aside.

 

No Fems? No Fairies? I Corinthians 6:9-10 and I Timothy 1:10

The words often translated “effeminate” and “homosexual” in these passages are obscure and difficult to translate. The first word identifies someone who is morally weak, and has nothing to do with nellie gay men. The second word probably means “people who use power to obtain sex,” though the word is so rare that a confident translation is impossible. Neither word refers specifically to gay men or lesbians.

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