“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to Love, for Love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
— Nelson Mandela
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, during his fight for equality: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
I am not the same person that I was 10 years ago, nor am I the same person I was even a year ago. My mom can vouch for the fact that I’ve always been stubborn, hard-headed, and in a sense: passionate about what I believe in. I’ve always believed in standing up for what is right, but for many years, I stood for what I believed in through silent agreement. Thankfully, with some help, I’ve finally come to understand the true meaning of courage. Merriam-Webster’s definition of courage is, the “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” It is through this definition that we come to the realization that courage, is not an event one overcomes without fear, but an act that any given individual overcomes in the midst of fear, danger, and/or difficulty. Not only that, but there are also multiple types of courage that consist of:
- Physical courage
- Spiritual courage
- Emotional courage
- Intellectual courage
- Social courage
- and Moral courage.
This post will force me to display at least four of these types of courage: spiritual, intellectual, social, and moral.
My ‘Religious’ Background:
I’m a Christian.
As a child, I grew up in a Filipino household that practiced Catholicism, but didn’t go to church every Sunday; However, highly emphasized it around Christmas and Easter. Due to the infrequency of my attendance to (Catholic) church, the severe emphasis on formality when attending, coupled with aspects of tradition and Bible verses that were read from the seemingly incomprehensible King James Version caused me to fall away from God and Catholicism, in general. This inevitably lead me down a long and winding road to secularism, agnosticism and atheism. I was comfortable there for a long while, however, during my final years of high school (and through the help of a lifelong friend (you know who you are!) I was able to find myself and establish a new foundation in my belief in God through the Evangelical (Protestant) church. With that being said, I sincerely believe nothing can shake me from my beliefs, ever again.
In recent events, however, I’ve come to notice that even the media is portraying Christianity in a negative light. Of course, most of this is in part due to a widespread amount of people that claim the title “Christian”, but rather than expressing God’s Love, they spew messages of malice and hate. I overhear statements that consist of arguments about how “God created Adam and Eve and not Adam and Steve” as though Adam and Steve (God’s creations) are more flawed, or more sinful. But before we even get into that, I have to ask: Is homosexuality truly a sin?
Before I begin, however, I’d like to make a formal DISCLAIMER:
I don’t claim to be a preacher, nor do I claim to have all the answers, but as a Christian, as an academic, as a free-thinker, and as a man that has the need to express how he feels – I find it imperative to talk about the conflict between homosexuality and christianity. So from here on forward, I will try my hand at some apologetics, and defend my stance for equality through information collected via observation, self-study, documentaries, articles, and human history. My only hope is that this message reaches someone out there and (even if it’s in the smallest or minute way possible) augments their perception of Christians and/or Christianity in a positive way.
Please be aware that this post may elicit some negative comments and if it does – I will not hesitate to delete said comments and/or disable comments altogether.
A Brief History of the Bible:
- The Bible was written over the span of approximately 1600 years
- It’s made up of 66 separate books altogether, written by at least 40 different authors
- The Old Testament has 39 books, dating back to 1500 B.C.E. (Before Common Era) to 400 B.C.E.
- The New Testament has 27 books, dating back from 40 C.E. to 90 C.E.
- The original language of the Old Testament has been found in Hebrew, with some chapters written in the Aramaic language.
- The New Testament was primarily written in Greek.
- The Bible contains over 6,000 verses.
- 600 passages speak about Love.
- Less than 1% reference homosexuality.
A Brief History of Homosexuality:
- Homosexuality can be seen as far back as the Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations.
- The oldest known written language is believed to be Egyptian Hieroglyphs in which homosexuality was depicted in some rare pieces.
- There were regional variations regarding homosexuality within given principalities and kingdoms.
- The Romans shared many similar parallels of same-sex attraction.
- For the most part, homosexuality was tolerated by most of the world until the 12th-14th centuries when the Roman Catholic Church labeled it “unnatural”. (According to Harvard University’s History department)
- Prior to the westernization of Japan, same-sex relationships were accepted. These types of same-sex relationships have been dated back as far as ancient Japan.
- The term ‘homosexual’ wasn’t a term used in science or medicine until 1869 C.E. by German Physician Karoly Benkert. Prior to this, there are no known pronouns used (in the English language) to describe courting and intimate relations between people of the same gender. This has lead many theologians to believe that the many uses of the term ‘homosexual’ have been grossly misinterpreted in the past.
- Prior to the word pedophilia being coined in the early 20th century, homosexuality and pedophilia were perceived to mean the same thing, creating malice and confusion with regards to homosexuality.
From this point forward, we’ll look at the Bible verses people use frequently in order to condemn homosexuals, same-sex relations and marriage equality. I will go through a brief summary of the passages, but if you’d like to read the entire passage they’re fairly easy to find if you google the book, chapter and verse.
This bracket will consist of verses, passages and stories from The Old Testament:
Genesis 1:1-31 “Adam and Eve”
- In this passage we come to learn about the creation of the world, as well as the creation of the first couple: Adam and Eve.
- Upon their creation, one of the first commandments God had for humans is to ‘be fruitful and multiply’.
- Naturally, this creates a type of impasse as homosexuals cannot procreate, therefore homosexuality is seen as a sin.
- Thecounterargument to this is, however, that anyone that doesn’t procreate is a sinner. This would not only be limited to homosexuals, but also:
- post menopausal women
- infertile men
- sterile men
- pregnant women
- women that won’t get pregnant again
- anyone that uses birth control
Genesis 2 & 3 “The Sanctity of Marriage”
- These passages talk more in depth about the creation of the Earth, mankind, and how marriage is “meant to be between a man and a woman.”
- After the creation of Earth, animals, and man, God saw that Adam was lonely and didn’t have a ‘suitable helper’.
- Adam in Hebrew stands for both man and ground (or mud creature).
- The Hebrew phrase for ‘suitable helper’ is: ezer kenegdo.
- “Ezer” meaning help and “kenegdo” meaning corresponding or like. A type of partner.
- It doesn’t mean someone that’s Adam’s lesser, or subordinate, or slave, but rather someone that will be there to help Adam and make him feel complete.
- In this sense, God doesn’t believe mankind should be alone, yet our society condemns homosexuals from finding their individual ‘ezer kenegdo’.
Genesis 19:1-29 “Sodom and Gomorrah”
- This passage pertains to a story that some theologians believe to be grossly misinterpreted as a story about homosexual sin. Afterall, the word “sodomy” alone, stems from the actions of the Sodomites of Sodom and Gomorrah.
- In this story two angels disguise themselves as men and wait in the city center to evaluate the actions of the people of the city.
- Context is much more important than content in this story, as we must come to the realization that during this period of time, when strangers and/or travelers enter a town or city, it is typical for people to offer them a home to stay in and a place to sleep.
- Rather than being hospitable to the weary travelers, however, the citizens began to get excited about the idea that these travelers would provide them with a means of entertainment for the night.
- Out of all of the citizens, Lot sees the men and invites them to his house for the evening. In doing this, however, citizens become angry and upset at Lot for taking their entertainment away from them.
- An angry mob then-goes to Lot’s house and demand that they see the men so that they might “know” them. (In this context “know” implies sexual activity.)
- Rather than be an inhospitable host and offer the men over to the crowd, Lot offers his virgin daughters instead. (Aside from this lewd [some would even describe as a heinous] act by Lot, it’s also important to remember the social stratification as well as the roles men and women played during this period of time.)
- In the end, it was primarily due to Lot’s courteous, generous, and hospitable nature to strangers traveling through his town that he was saved from the destruction that ravished Sodom and Gomorrah.
Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13 “Cultural Norms and Laws”
- Leviticus is a book of the Bible that pertains to a certain set of laws for individual tribes (12 in all), as well as the cultural norms of that given time and era.
- These laws often-times distinguish one culture from another, but the laws were prohibited from being intermixed and/or interchanged.
- One of the laws passed down in this book prohibits the act of one man ‘laying’ with another man.
- If you accept one law, however, you must accept them all.
- A man must not lay with another man
- Pork and shellfish are not kosher/prohibited
- Do not plant new crops on the same lot of land (US agricultural industry)
- Do not wear clothing made from two different types of material
- Adulterers should be executed
- A man cannot touch his wife within 7 days of her menstrual cycle
- If we refer back to the verse regarding homosexuality, it roughly translates to “a man shall not lay with another as he lays with a woman.”
- When taken into context, culturally speaking, women were owned by men. Fathers owned their daughters and husbands owned their wives, but men were not permitted to own other men.
- Keeping this context in mind, sex with a virgin woman would often be considered the damaging of another man’s property (if she wasn’t your property to begin with).
- With all of that being said, the closest translation of this verse comes to: ‘a man will not lay with another man, as though he owns that man.’ In other words sodomy or non-consensual sex was prohibited among men.
This next bracket will consist of verses, passages and stories from The New Testament which was completed by a man named Paul around 70 C.E.
Romans 1:26-27 “Homosexuality is Unnatural”
- This passage talks about people that turn their backs on God, as they “exchanged their natural relations for unnatural relations.”
- Most readers read this passage from as a statement that homosexuality is a form of God’s punishment for people that turn away from Him; however, what Paul is talking about isn’t in the literal sense of laws of nature, but more along the lines of cultural views and norms.
- During that time, even slavery was seen as a “natural” world view at the time. In many cases, what makes something “natural” is based off of the perspectives of the dominant culture.
- On a side note, however, homosexuality does occur in nature.
- Prior to 1995, the homosexual behavior exhibited by animals have often been omitted; however, in reality many higher mammal species exhibit homosexual relations and courtship. We can see them in:
- African elephants
- and the list goes on…
1 Timothy 1:9-10 “Arsenokoitai”
“The law is not made for the righteous, but for the ungodly and sinners, the unholy and the profane, for murderers of fathers, and murderers of mothers, for man slayers, for whore mongrels, and for them that defile themselves with mankind.”
- In original Greek word used to describe the underlined behavior above was:arsenokoitai
- The word/phrase can only be found in two places of the New Testament and they are in 1 Timothy 1:9-10 and 1 Corinthians 6:9
- Read more about this phrase in the next section.
1 Corinthians 6:9 “Content vs. Context”
- In this passage, Paul lists all of the people that will not be able to get into the kingdom of Heaven, and uses the term “arsenokoitai” again.
- Arsenokoitaiis made up of two main words:
- ‘Arseno’ meaning man or men
- ‘Koitai’ meaning bed
- Combined it roughly translates to ‘man/men in bed’
- There are a variety of translations fortheGreek wordarsenokoitai:
- “them that defile themselves with mankind”
- “those who are immoral with boys”
- “practicing homosexuals”
- “sexual perverts”
- “sexual immoral”
- “sexually perverted”
- “sin of nature”
- “men who lie with males”
- “men who sin sexually with other men”
- “men who practice homosexuality”
- Some of these translations create a stigma that homosexuality isn’t any different than pedophiles and/or rapists.
- Again, we must take into consideration that the term ‘homosexual’ wasn’t even coined until 1869, so the blatant use of the term can be seen as grossly misused and/or misinterpreted.
- Although we can read the Bible and take it literally, there is always a slew ofcontextthat needsto be accounted for aside from the content. In other words, we should always take into account the context and cultural norms of the time and era the text is referring to.
- During Paul’s time, male temple prostitutes were seen frequently. Also, the prostitution of males often occurred between young (pre-pubescent boys) and older (sometimes married) men. Not only this, but similar acts also occurred between a free man and his slave(s).
- Therefore, itcan be assumed that these acts carried out between older men and young men, as well as free men and slaves, could have been what Paul meantbythe termarsenokoitai.
- In these cases the primary fault is the lack of consent between the two engaging in relations. In both scenarios slaves and/or young prostitutes can be coerced into scenarios that they would not desire to be in.
- Therefore, perhaps Paul was exposing this type of behavior that he had been observing on a regular basis.
In conclusion, the Bible has been used for thousands of years to persecute an incalculable number of people, from Native Americans, African Americans, to the Jewish, scientists and women (just to name a few). Ultimately, I believe that Christianity really revolves around one significant individual and that was Jesus Christ. Despite the fact that he never once preached about homosexuality (despite its presence during his life) we can come to understand Jesus Christ’s perspective on things through observing his life and his actions.
He always sided with the people that were oppressed, of women, drunkards, prostitutes, tax collectors (who were detested) and even with people suffering from leprosy. He wasn’t a moralist and he genuinely cared about the everyday lives of people. Not only this, but he also helped to restore communities with an emphasis and focus on Love. Afterall, one of the greatest commandments we have ever been given is the commandment to Love our neighbors, as we do ourselves. No man is an island, therefore we should all be allowed to find our “ezer kenegdo” without fear of persecution from others who are not blameless or pure, themselves. Let God do the judging. Let us do the Loving.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
— 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“I hope you fall in love with someone who always calls you back and never lets you fall asleep making you feel unwanted. I hope you fall in love with someone who holds your hand during the scary parts of horror movies and burns cookies with you while you’re both busy dancing around the kitchen.
I hope you fall in love with someone who tickles you and makes you smile on hard days and on easy ones. But beyond all that I hope you fall in love with someone who will never leave you behind and who will never take you for granted. Someone who will stand by you when you’re right and stand by you when you’re wrong. Someone who has seen you at your worst and loves you still. I hope you fall in love with someone who kisses you in the rain and hugs you when you’re cold and wouldn’t have it any other way.”