Homosexuality Essay, Research Paper
Since the dawn of time, a small number of men and women have found themselves to be attracted to members of their own sex. This has come to be known as homosexuality. In every age, this minority has struggled with the prejudices and hatred of others unfamiliar with the homosexual struggle. Even today, in a technologically-advanced world satiated with answers to many difficult questions, the cause and condition of homosexuality remains an enigma.
Fear of the unknown is a common plague upon mankind. This fear, unfortunately, has most conspicuously reared its ugly head in the ecclesiastical traditions of the Judeo-Christian people. Up until the twelfth century, organized religion had little to say about homosexuality (Marcus 141). Women, Negroes, and homosexuals are among many of those oppressed by the intense, fear-spawned hatred which has made its home in the church. Of these many groups, though, homosexuals are the only group that is still significantly persecuted by the church.
Does Jehovah really condemn homosexuality? If not, why has this lie of condemnation been allowed to sweep through the church, without obstacle, for so many years? The not-so-simple truth is that God does not condemn homosexuality. Human error and ignorance have perpetuated the false belief that homosexuality is an abomination. Briefly, some of these errors will now be discussed and refuted.
There are at least two important things to keep in mind when reading the Bible. First, one must always consider its context. In order to understand any writing, whether it be a letter, an e-mail, a poem, a speech, or even the Bible, it is necessary to understand its background. One should consider who is speaking, to whom the writing is addressed, why the writing was authored, and what events surrounded its composition.
In the case of the Scriptures, the cultural and social context of Biblical times was very different from our own. For example, when God commanded humanity to “increase and multiply,” this was addressed to Israel, a small, desert nation surrounded by many enemies. Israelites needed to multiply in order to survive.
Secondly, the Bible began as an oral tradition, and was written down only centuries later. The scriptures were then copied and re-copied. Even with the best of intentions, translators and copyists are quite capable of human error.
Using the Bible, Christians will often make reference to the familiar story of Sodom in order to prove that homosexuality is sinful and depraved. They allege that Sodom was punished by God for its homosexual “abominations.” A study of other scriptural passages, however, renders an entirely different interpretation.
In Ezekiel 16:48-50, the Prophet of God plainly states that the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality, but greed and inhospitality. Jesus also makes reference to this in the gospels, when he admonishes his disciples to wipe the dust of inhospitable towns from their feet.
Another common reference point of reference for hatemongers is the Levitical laws, as found in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. The Reverend Elder Donald Eastman comments upon these passages:
Hebrew religion, characterized by the revelation of one God, stood in continuous tension with the religion surrounding Canaanites who worshiped the multiple gods of fertility cults. Canaanite idol worship, which featured female and male cult prostitution as noted in Deuteronomy 23:17, repeatedly compromised Israel’s loyalty to God. The Hebrew word for a male cult prostitute, qadesh, is mistranslated “sodomite” in some versions of the Bible. (4)
One must also remember that Levitical law demands abstinence from pork, shellfish, lobster, and rabbit, as well as condemning the interbreeding of cattle, and an entire host of other laws which are no longer relevant to the Church in her current dispensation.
Does the New Testament have anything to say about homosexuality? One of the most significant facts regarding homosexuality and its compatibility with Christianity is the fact that Jesus never recorded in the gospels as having said a single word of condemnation toward gay men and women. That fact alone should put an end to the argument. Nevertheless, many Christians cite other New Testament references in their effort to discriminate.
In the New Testament, there are a few scriptures often cited to show that homosexuality is contrary to the will of God. One such passage is found in the book of Romans:
“For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men.”
One should note that this verse, in all known translations, refers to the exchange of “natural relations” for “unnatural” ones. Nowhere does this refer to responsible sexual practices engaged in by those of a homosexual orientation. Instead, it could simply be understood to state that heterosexuals should not try to become homosexuals.
Another such passage is found in the seventh verse of the book of Jude:
In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
Again, this verse has been misinterpreted by well-meaning (and not-so-well-meaning) ministers for centuries. Nowhere in this verse is a specific reference found to homosexuality. During the time of Sodom and Gomorrah, the surrounding Pagans practiced a form of temple prostitution. Also, it should be noted that the men of Sodom attempted to rape Lot’s two visitors. Either of these practices could be what was referred to be the Apostle Thaddeus in this verse. This possibility is certainly more substantial than the argument that Jude was condemning homosexuals.
Today, many Christian denominations and churches are making a tremendous move toward reconciling themselves with the homosexual community. Throughout the Christian spectrum, bold men and women, ranging from Catholics to Mormons to Pentecostals, are taking a stand against the hate perpetuated by Christendom as a whole (Alliance of Christian Churches). Sadly, though, the vast majority of Christians still remain fearfully ignorant of the liberating truth presented by the Scriptures, and allow men to come between them and a more perfect understanding of God’s message of love and liberty for the human race.
In John 3:16, Christ states that the salvation is available to whosoever believes. Does man, no matter what his rank in the Ecclesiastical ladder, have any right or authority to add stipulations to Christ’s offer? Certainly not! When it comes to matters of scriptural interpretation, Saint Paul proclaimed the best rule of faith: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”
The Holy Bible: New International Version. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984.
The Holy Bible: Revised Standard Version. Iowa Falls: World, 1989.
Marcus, Eric. Is It A Choice?. San Francisco: Harper, 1999.
Eastman, Donald. Homosexuality: Not a Sin, Not a Sickness. Los Angeles: Universal Fellowship, 1990.
Alliance of Christian Churches. Faith Traditions. 3 May, 2001 n. pag.