Homosexuality and Christianity

Desmond Tutu, Anglican Archbishop of South Africa:
We reject [homosexuals], treat them as pariahs, and push them outside our church communities, and thereby we negate the consequences of their baptism and ours. We make them doubt that they are the children of God, and this must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy. We blame them for something that is becoming increasingly clear they can do little about.
Marilyn B. Alexander "We Were Baptized Too: Claiming God's Grace for Lesbians and Gays", Westminster: John Knox Press (1996)

Various Links Dealing with Homosexuality and Christianity

Work By Others

  • The Bible and Homosexuality--on-line debate
  • Justice and Respect ("Conservative Christians for a just and respectful response to persons who experience same-gender attraction")
  • Musings On.com--a conservative Christian who is non-affirming but accepting writes of her journey in the gay community as well as a strong essay in favor of civil same-sex marriage
  • A gay issues web site, with a Christian perspective-- by Tim Fogarty
  • Various Christian denomination's official policies on homosexuality--Ontario Conslutants for Religious Tolerance
  • Gay Christians--No easy answers
  • The Bible and Homosexuality--an attempt to show conservative and liberal positions (with a liberal bent)
  • Walter Wink on Homosexuality and the Bible
  • Whosoever--Welcoming and Affirming Baptists page
  • Bridges Across the Divide--ex-gays and gays in dialogue for mutual understanding and respect
  • Homosexuality: Culture and Religion
  • Metropolitan Christian Church homepage with numerous pro-gay links
  • Christian Lesbians Online--a cool, way Christian site, with a uniquely feminine perspective on this issue, to contrast the analytical nature of my site
  • Rob Goetze's review of 31 studies on sexual re-orientation therapies
  • The Truth Sets Free-- by Earlham student Justin Cannon

    My Own Position

    As a starting point, hermeneutically, I affirm the historical-critical method of Scriptural interpretation. This means that we can't understand the meaning of the Jewish and Christian texts unless we understand the original language and culture, and attempt to understand the texts as they would have been originally heard/read. This task is made difficult since thousands of years of history separate us, and that our enmeshment in our own cultural traditions and beliefs make it impossible to fully realize the profound differences between us. Despite these difficulties, rigorous analysis of the texts continually lead us to better understanding and better lenses to see ancient ways of life, as well as truths that we can discern from these spiritually important writings.

    There are a number of passages that refer to and allegedly condemn homosexuality. As for the Old Testament passages (see Addendum 2 for an expanded explanation), their application to the issue of homosexuality is limited because they are either found contiguously with verses we wouldn't think of following anymore (abstaining from sex with a woman while she is menstruating on pain of social and religious ex-communication: Lev. 18.19-22, 20.13-18), they refer specifically to temple prostitution (I Ki 14.24, 15.12--newer translations use the Hebrew words "temple prostitute", not "homosexual"), or they have nothing to do with gay marriage (Gen 19-the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, which we have no indication was related specifically to homosexuality, let alone gay marriage, but to behaviors such as those characterized by the mob that demanded that Lot give up the men in his house so they could gang-rape them).

    Arsenokoitai and Malakoi (1 Co 6.9, 1 Tim 1.9-10)

    There are only three New Testament passages relevant to the discussion. The first two represent cases of linguistic mistranslation: 1 Co 6.9 and 1 Tim 1.9-10. In these passages we are given the distinct impression in some English translations that homosexuality is sin. However, the Greek words used here are not a broad condemnation of all homosexuality (see Addendum 3 for a more extensive analysis of Greek culture and homosexuality, and of arsenokoitai). The first word, malakoi, is translated numerous ways: effeminate, male prostitute, catamite (a boy kept by a child molester) in other Greek literature. In fact, the literal translation of this word is "soft" and we have no idea what it means in this context (especially, since we find this word in a "list" format, there is no real "context" from which to derive a meaning anyway). It could just as easily have been translated malleable, cowardly, sickly, lacking self-control or morally weak (in a general sense), none of which have any specific homosexual connotations (see Herodotus, Histories 7.153 and 13.51; Aristophanes Wasps 1455, Plutus 488; Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics 1150a:33; Plato, Republic 556c). It is found several other times in Scripture, being translated as soft or fine referring to clothing in Matt 11:8 and Luke 7:25, and infirmity or malady in Matt 4:23, 9:35, and 10:1.

    The second word, arsenokoitai (see Addendum 3 for a more extensive analysis of arsenokoitai), translated in the NIV as "homosexual offenders", is actually best translated as sexual aggressor (with the connotations of a rapist of slave trader). This word is found in no extant Greek literature prior to Paul's use here, which complicates our understanding of the word. The literal translation of this compound word is (arsenos) male- (koites) bedders, which could easily mean a man who sleeps around, from an etymological perspective. The strongest argument that leads one to believe that Paul was referring specifically to general homosexuality is the possibility that Paul coined this term himself. If this is the case, then he probably created this compound word from the Septuagint (the ancient Greek version of the Old Testament) translation of Leviticus 20:13 (kai hos an koimethe meta arsenos koiten gunaikos...). However, this passage refers specifically to the holiness codes and thus probably implies some kind of ritual uncleanness (see Addendum 2 on the Old Testament passages; and again, this assumes both that he coined the term, and that he intended the term to refer back to this passage, neither of which have strong evidence). Moreover, one wonders why, if Paul is going to go to the extent of creating a novel word to prohibit male homosexual behavior, why doesn't he, in the same verse, create a complementary word prohibiting female homosexual behavior. The conspicuous absence of such a prohibition implies that if Paul is using the term arsenokoitai to refer to homosexual behavior at all, he is not prohibiting all homosexual behavior, only some type of male homosexual behavior that produced ritual uncleanness in the mind of the first century church, most likely a Canaanite sacred sex ritual (see my argument regarding the Old Testament foundation for Romans 1. Regardless, neither arsenokoitai nor malakoi are justifiably translated as "any homosexual behavior" (or more specifically, the active and passive partners in anal homosexual intercourse, as is the common interpration by contemporary Christian anti-gay writers) in any other Greek literature, which makes one question why they are translated that way here.

    Romans 1.18-32: God's Wrath on Idolaters

    (The following represents the short version of my argument. A more detailed argument can be found in my paper on Paul, the Goddess Religions and Homosexuality) The third passage of difficulty is Rom 1.26-27. This passage is not a simple lexical problem, but is a contextual problem. I come at this text in two ways. First, with the possibility that this text cannot be understood in any way other than condemning homosexuality, I look to standard hermeneutical rules, one of which is to not ground a weighty theological belief based on one passage. If it is true that this passage condemns homosexuality (which I do not), but I find that it is the only reliable passage which does so, I cannot say that homosexuality is necessarily sin, since there are no other texts to clarify the proper application of this doctrine. Such is the case with passages in 1 Co which indicate clearly that women should keep silent in church. This command (if taken literally) was not followed in the early church, nor is it followed today. This is/was not because we feel the need to "erase" passages with which we don't agree, but that there is obviously something happening in that situation that we, today, don't understand, since women did in fact teach in the early churches. Moreover, all major theological doctrines in Christianity are built around statements that are repeated several times in Scripture: God loves, Jesus died and resurrected, Jesus is coming back, all have sinned, etc.

    My second approach to this passage is to try to understand what it means if it isn't a broad condemnation of homosexuality. While Romans 1:18-32 is the primary text used from the New Testament by those people who condemn homosexuality, that has not always been the interpretation of this passage. For example, verse 26, which is the only verse in Scripture which is often interpreted today to refer to lesbian sexuality, is often used to round out the beliefs of those who condemn all homosexuality as sin, since all of the other alleged condemnations of homosexuality specifically refer to male-male behavior, linguistically excluding female-female behavior. Looking back at early interpreters of this verse, while some have believed that this verse referred to lesbians (John Chrysostom), many key church leaders have not held this view, such as Clement of Alexandria and Saint Augustine, who believed this to be anal or oral sex between heterosexuals (Brooten, 1985; Miller, 1995). One early Christian writer, Anastasios, clearly dismisses the view that Paul was referring to lesbianism in his comments on Romans 1:26:

    Clearly they (the females referred to in Romans 1:26) do not go into one another, but rather offer themselves to the men. (Brooten, 1996, p. 337n)
    . Augustine continues this line of thought (fairly explicitly):
    But if one has relations even with one's wife in a part of the body which was not made for begetting children, such relations are against nature and indecent. In fact, the same apostle earlier said the same thing about women, "For their women exchanged natural relations for those which are against nature." (Marriage and Desire, 20.35)
    The problem is that, in addition to the structural complexity of the passage, there is an uncertainty in the meaning of certain phrases in the text, primarily "exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones" (NIV, v. 26b). For example, this idea could (outside of the context of this passage) refer to sex with a barren or pregnant woman, sex with a menstruating woman, pederasty, sex between animals of different species, etc., since the person was exchanging the Judaic understanding of the purpose of sex, procreation, for behaviors which could not produce children (Brooten p. 247, 1996; Ward p. 271-273).

    Romans 1:18-32 is a complex passage, and any quick reading of the English translations gives the clear impression that all forms of homosexuality are being condemned. However, the issue of whether or not homosexuality is sin should not rest on a quick reading of a translation. Digging into a passage, looking at patterns in and purposes of a passage as a whole is the only way that we can find out what any text is really about. This is true of Romans 1. English translations lack a dynamic quality that is found in the original language, and obscures patterns that help us clarify the meaning and purpose of the text. The primary pattern in this passage is the usage of the phrases "they exchanged" (met/yllaxan; v. 23, 25, 26b) and "God gave them over" (paradwken; v. 24, 26a, 28), which enclose three parallel thoughts between verses 23-28. Parallelism, extremely common in the Hebraic and Greek literature, involves repeating a thought in a different way for emphasis (see Nils Lund Chiasmus in the New Testament, 1942; John Welch Chiasmus in Antiquity, 1981). Paul often used this common device of emphasis, and it is clear from the structure of this passage that Paul is using this technique to emphasize God's wrath against the sin of idolatry (see Douglas Moo, Romans 1-8, 1991). He begins in verses 18-20 by showing the readers that there is some part of God's character ("His eternal power and divine nature" NIV) that can be seen in creation itself, apart from the special revelation found in Scripture. Thus, even Greeks are without excuse as far as to whom they should direct their worship. Moreover, we are told that these Greeks did actually know God from creation, however "they neither glorified Him as God, nor gave thanks to Him" NIV v. 21). These Greeks, and Paul was specifically referring to all non-Jews (see v. 16 for Paul's breakdown of people-groups for this chapter: there are Jews, and then there is everybody else (hellyni), translated as Greeks in the NASB, and Gentiles in the NIV), were engaged in human philosophies (Stoicism, etc) and religions which sought to understand and worship creation apart from the Creator. Though they at one time knew God (v. 21), they eventually ended up in the position that they "did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God" (NIV, v. 28). Paul shows us in this chapter that this progression of not glorifying God as God to abandoning the concept of God leads to any number of sinful behaviors (murder, etc), as described in the last several verses of the chapter (1:29-31). Finally, we see that while somehow these Gentiles knew the laws of God, and knew that breaking these laws deserve death, they not only practiced these behaviors, but approved of others who did the same (v. 32).

    That is the general outline of the chapter. The primary focus of the chapter is on Gentiles who stop worshipping God, and who "exchange/substitute" (met/yllaxan) the worship of God for the worship of idols. While one could easily postulate that the substitution here could be extended metaphorically to anything which takes our focus off of God (human philosophies, busy-ness, religiosity, etc.), Paul's language here seems to limit us specifically to explicit idol worship. Both of the first two parallel passages (vs 23-24, 25-26a), which are clearly bounded by the repeated phrases "they exchanged" (met/yllaxan; this word refers to a substitution of one thing in place of another) and "God gave them over" (paradwken; this word refers to God allowing the natural course of events to occur from the behavior initiated by the Gentiles--God didn't "cause" them to have the "sinful desires" (v. 24), "shameful lusts" (v. 26a) or "depraved mind" (v. 28), but when the Gentiles abandoned God, paradwken implies that God stepped back and allowed the natural course of events to happen) very graphically describe idol worship as it would have been found in Greek and Roman cultic rituals of the time of Paul's writing.

    Here is a full, exegetical breakdown of last half of Romans 1
    18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools

    23 and exchanged (yllaxan) the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them over (paradwken) in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.

    25 They exchanged (metyllaxan) the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over (paradwken) to shameful lusts.

    Even their women exchanged (metyllaxan) natural relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. 28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, God gave them over (paradwken) to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.

    29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy,murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

    The third parallel part is similarly bounded with the Greek words metyllaxan and paradwken, but does not quite follow the pattern of the first two parts. As in the first two parts, we see that God has given them over to wicked behavior (v. 28). However, in both of the first two parts we see that what they exchanged were clearly idolatrous behaviors, while in the third part, we see sexual behaviors being exchanged/substituted. This is the primary difficulty with this text. If one allows that the things being exchanged in vs. 23 and 25 are metaphors for anything which draws us away from God, then one can easily say that the sexual behaviors described in vs 26b-27 describe general homosexual behavior. However, it seems like a poor handling of the texts to allow for such a metaphorical meaning, when the texts are so explicitly concrete in their descriptions of cultic idolatry ("images made to look like mortal man" and "worshipped and served created things"). In the same way, in order to preserve the symmetry of the parallel verses, one would be safest to conclude that the third parallel similarly refers to cultic idolatry. The fact that homosexual conduct is described in this regard makes sense when one realizes that homosexual temple prostitution was a common phenomenon of cultic idolatry rituals in the geographic location and time in which Paul was writing. Taking this interpretation of Romans 1:26b-27 preserves the symmetry inherent within the text.

    The most likely cult that Paul was referring to was the Cybelean/Attic mystery cult, which was one of the most prominent cults in Rome, and had an history going back several hundred years in the region. The priests and priestesses, called galli, attempted to achieve gender neutrality in service to their god/dess. The goal was to transcend gender in order to become more like Attis (the father God, son/lover of Cybele) and Cybele (the mother goddess). Attis was castrated and Cybele was a virgin. Both were sexually active in the myth (many of Cybele's counterparts were known as a fertility goddess), but engaged in sexual acts that could not produce children. In order to become more like their gods, all galli voluntarily castrated themselves, and were involved in ritual sexuality with the worshippers that would come to the temple.

    Here is a brief comparison of verses in Romans 1 with galli practices
    v. 21-22: they claimed to be wise but are foolish The galli claimed to tell people's fortunes, but everybody thought were mad, the way they danced around and cut themselves. The Greek texts talk about the "mania" of their rituals.
    v. 23: they made images of man and animals to worship The Cybele's temple statues were of Attis, Cybele (and others), who were always surrounded by other images of animals, particularly lions and snakes. In addition, the galli's temples were always filled with doves, because the galli thought they were too holy to touch, to shoo them away. The fact that all of these animals were normative in the Cybelean temples and Paul mention them by name, makes it highly likely that Paul was specifically referring to this cult in Romans 1.
    v. 26-27: exchanging natural relations, etc. One of the primary ideas of the galli was to remove gender differences. This occurred through transvestitism, and physically cutting off one's genitals. Part of this was also assuming the sexual characteristics of the opposite gender, so the male galli would serve sexually "as women" to male worshippers in the temple. Women were known to cut off their breasts and have lesbian relationships to transcend their gender. Women had sex with men too, but in order to avoid pregnancy, again like Cybele, they would have anal sex, not vaginal (some early church fathers, like Clement and Augustine, indicate that the female behavior referred to in these verses is not female-female behavior, but female-male sexual behavior in a manner which disallowed pregnancy--see below for a fuller explanation).

    This seems to have been the view of the early church. Hippolytus, a Christian martyr and church leader in the early part of the 3rd century, ties the Cybelean rituals with the Romans passage. In Refutation of All Heresies, Book V, he describes both the Cybelean ("mother of the gods")/,Attis cults and the Naassenes, a Gnostic group.

    But if the mother of the gods emasculate Attis, and herself has this person as an object of affection, the blessed nature of the supernatural and everlasting alone recalls the male power of the soul to itself. For (the Naassene) says, there is the hermaphrodite man. According to this account of theirs, the intercourse of woman with man is demonstrated, in conformity with such teaching, to be exceedingly wicked and filthy. For, says the Naassene, Attis has emasculated himself and has passed over from the earthly parts of the nether world to the everlasting substance above, where thre is neither female or male, but a new creature, a new man, which is hermaphrodite. [at which point Hippolytus quotes Romans 1.20-23 as an introduction, then skips directly to 1.26-27, poignantly emphasizing Paul's purpose in this passage of Scripture].

    Some people argue against the interpretation of three parallel accounts of idolatry, saying that only the first two clauses represent parallels on idolatry. They say that it appears that Paul turns his line of reasoning away from simple idolatry to all sinful behavior, and that the homosexuality described in vs. 26-27 represent an archetype of sin--that the Jewish and Roman readers of the book would think of homosexuality and would picture some of the worst type of sin possible. The argument continues by stating that Paul finishes his thought in vs. 29-31 to list a larger list of sins (which was common in Paul and other early church writers--to use 'sin lists'), of which homosexuality is merely the first of the list, separated by v. 28, a description of what God has to do when confronted with unrepentant sinners. Interpreted this way, the third clause, vs. 26b-28, does not represent simply an issue of idolatry, but represents all sins, and thus homosexuality cannot be interpreted as limited to cultic homosexual prostitution.

    However, the grammar of the passage prevents that interpretation, for two reasons, both described in Chamberlain's classic textbook, An Exegetical Grammar of the Greek New Testament(1941/1987). First, kai kaQws, found in v. 28 (translated as 'since' in the NIV; see also Kasemann, Commentary on Romans, 1980; Fitzmeyer, Romans, 1993) separates the previous discussion from the discussion which follows it, making the homosexual behavior listed in vs. 26b-28 as part of a different clause than the sin list in vs. 29-32. Chamberlain explains, saying that kaQws here takes a causal meaning:

    p. 176 Sometimes, it seems to shade off into the causal idea [quotes Rom 1:28 in Greek], 'because they did not approve having God in (their) knowledge God gave them up to a reprobate mind,'
    Second, Chamberlain discusses the verb translated as 'to do' in v. 28:
    p. 106 When it explains a verb, it is called the epexegetical infinitive: poiein (Rom 1.28), 'to do' (the things that are unseemly), explains what Paul means by paredwken autous o Qeos eis adokimon vouv, 'God gave them up to a reprobate mind.' The list of unseemly acts follows.
    This gives the following paraphrased rendering of v. 28:
    And because of the fact that (kai kaQws) they stopped believing in God, God gave them over paradwken to a worthless mind, to do (poiein) evil things, as listed in the following verses.
    Thus, the acts listed in vs. 26b-27 (which are the cultic homosexual prostitution acts) are part of the ultimate cause of God giving them over, not the result of God giving them over. This makes them clearly separate from the acts listed in v. 29-31, which are the result of God having given them over, and clearly not the cause. Having grammatically separated what is cause and what is result in this passage, it is easy to see that the homosexual acts must be separate entities from the sin-list and therefore were intended to be interpreted in the context of the three-clause, metyllaxan/paradwken system, and not as part of the sin-list.
    This gives us the following outline of the passage from v. 23-31:
    Outline vs. 23a-24 vs. 25-26a vs. 26b-31
    They exchanged (met/yllaxan) God's glory (23a) God's truth for a lie (25a) natural relations for unnatural (26b)
    This led them to do the following make images of animals and men to worship (23b) worship created things (25b) stop believing in God (28a)
    Which led God to give them over to (paradwken) sinful desires/sexual impurity/degrading their bodies (24) shameful lusts (26a) a depraved mind, to do evil things (28b-31)

    The only way to make this text refer to all homosexual behavior as opposed to merely cultic temple prostitution is to either rip it from its context, or to take a liberal interpretation of the text and make the three parallels metaphorical instead of literal. This is especially clear when one looks closer at the structure of the third parallel, and compares that to the other two parallels. I might note that close analysis of the structure is an appropriate technique to use with Paul. Paul was not ignorant of the rhetoric of the day, nor was Paul careless with his words. Paul was a master craftman when it came to language, and all of his letters show a great attention to detail and structure. At any rate, within the first two parallels, we see that God gave them over to evil behaviors because of certain actions they took ("exchanging the glory of God for images", and then worshipping and serving created things rather than the creator). God does not necessarily give them over because of what they have exchanged, but because of the actions taken because of the exchanges (in the second parallel, they have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, but the resulting action is that they "worshipped and served created things"). In the third parallel, they exchange natural relations (phusikyn chrysin) for those which are against nature(para phusin) as described in verses 26b-27. However, it was not those exchanges which led to God giving them over. Those exchanges resulted in verse 28, "they did not think it worthwhile to retain a knowledge of God" (NIV), which is what caused God to give them over. It was not the sexual behavior which caused God give them over, but their abandoning their belief in God which caused them to be given them over. The sexual behavior was a key part of the process of them rejecting belief in God, just as making idols, and worshipping/serving idols was a key part of the process in verses 23-26a.

    Para Phusin and Natural Theology

    At this point, it may be instructive to look at the phrase para phusin ("against nature"). In the cultural backdrop of Judaism, the primary reason for sex was procreation. Any sexual acts which did not work to fulfill this goal was para phusin. This is seen in other writings of the era, such as Philo, Josephus and Plato (Ward; Brooten 1996; DeYoung 1988). Philo, speaking as a Jewish writer contemporary with Paul, specifically "condemns men who knowingly marry barren women . . . thereby destroying their seeds. . . . These men are like pigs or goats, and are thus antagonists of God and enemies of nature" (Ward, p. 271). Similarly, regarding pederasty, Philo says that the active partner (the dominant, "insertive" male) is para phusin because he "does not procreate" (Ward, p. 272). Clement of Alexandria, speaking from an early Christian perspective, similarly makes the claim that in order for sex to be in accordance with nature, procreation should be the result (Brooten p. 247, 1996). Linguistically, there is no specific reason why verse 26 could not refer to men having non-vaginal sex with women (Miller), however, the context seems somewhat prohibitive of that interpretation (specifically, the usage of the word "similarly"/"homoiws" in verse 27) unless one takes into consideration the references to Clement and Augustine above. Regardless, the usage of para phusin is another difficult part of this passage, not only because it does not clarify the nature of the relationships that "their (the male Gentiles') women" exchanged, but it also classes Paul's entire argument into a very debated area, namely that of "natural theology." As discussed elsewhere in this paper, Paul's usage of natural theology is not very helpful to us as we attempt to apply New Testament rules to Western society. In ancient Greece and Judaism, since women were little more than property, there were strict sex-roles that had to be maintained. Any show of dominance of a woman, or passivity of a man was an "exchange" that was "against nature." Take, for example, Paul's clear command in 1 Timothy 2:11-14 that women must be silent and in submission to their men, which Paul relates back to the creation account with Adam and Eve (the created "natural order"). Then in 1 Corinthians 11:3-17 Paul makes a similar case, this time claiming that "the very nature (phusis) of things" (NIV, v. 14) should make it evident to us that men must have short hair, and that women must have long hair. However, this is neither evident to those in most cultures today, nor is it currently practiced among Christians. The reason for this dismissal of Paul's commands isn't a rejection of the Gospel, but an acceptance that the cultural dogmas of Paul's time which subordinated women as property are no longer in effect today, and it would be inappropriate for us to tie the Gospel to such ideologies. So Paul's argument "from nature," rather than universalizing his case to all places and all times, seems to do the opposite, and limits the consequences of issues tied to natural theology to Paul's own time and culture. Similarly with the homosexual descriptions in Romans 1:26-27, even if the behaviors mentioned there didn't already seem to be limited to cultic temple prostitution by the context of the triple parallelism, Paul's linking the behavior to natural theology seems to further limit it, and calls into question its relevance for today's culture.

    Moreover, not only does Paul tie the sexual behavior described here to his natural theology, but he also ties it to the word exekauthysan, which describes the men as "inflamed with lust" (NIV). This word, which literally means "utterly consumed by fire" (Hultgren), describes a behavior which has nothing to do with a normal, monogamous relationship. This kind of lust is one that grows to control all of one's thoughts and is insatiable. This is not the kind of simple longings and drives described earlier in the passage ("sinful desires"/"epithumiais", "sexual impurity"/"akatharsian", v. 24; "shameful lusts"/"pathy atimias", v. 26, NIV), but describe an all consuming force which takes control and destroys. While this type of phenomenon can admittedly be found in some homosexual relationships, it is by no means limited to homosexual relationships, and it is certainly not typical of homosexual relationships (despite what some tenets of the media would like us to believe). So this is a further exclusion of this passage from referring to all homosexual relationships.

    There are several reasons that lead me to believe that this passage is not condemning all homosexual behavior, but is only condemning temple prostitution/idol worship. First, when looking at the structure of the passage, it seems clear, from a conservative interpretation, that the sin in verses 26b-27 must be somehow related to some concrete form of idolatry, not an abstract concept that describes all homosexual behavior. Rather, the concrete form of idolatry that fits in with the structure of the parallelism, yet also conforms to the homosexual content of the passage, seems to clearly indicate that Paul's intent was to solely condemn homosexual cultic temple prostitution. Second, even without trying to conform to the parallelism, one can see that the primary issue of chapter one is that idolatry leads to abandoning the belief in God. The third parallel shows that whatever kind of sexual behavior is referred to, it causes them to stop believing in God (vs 26b-28). However, there is a huge population of gays and lesbians who believe in God. I am personally involved with multiple organizations which contain Christian gays and lesbians, and can bear witness to the existence of such people. These are not people who claim to believe in God, but live lives of promiscuity, etc. These are people who are either celibate gays (looking for a monogamous, long-term relationship), or are in monogamous, long-term homosexual relationships, but who also have strong beliefs in and love for the God of the Bible, and who have a strong commitment to obeying the teaching of Scripture. In the absence of such models, it would be much easier to accept that Romans 1:18-32 claims that all homosexuality is sin, because it would then be obvious that since no homosexuals believed in God, therefore verses 26-27 refer to all homosexual behavior. However, since there are many gay/lesbian Christians (Evangelical/Catholic/Pentecostal, etc.) who have a strong belief in God, then it becomes obvious that verses 26-28 cannot refer to all homosexual behavior, otherwise Scripture would be in error. The final two reasons why I believe this passage is not referring to all homosexual behavior, especially behavior that can be applied to today's culture, is the fact that Paul ties the homosexual behavior to natural theology, which, in other cases of Paul's teachings, seems to limit those doctrines to Paul's own culture, and to the fact that Paul further limits the behavior described in these verses to behavior characterized by an all-consuming, destructive passion, exekauthys

    Summary of Evidence

    Finally, after the positive evidence given above, I would like to point out some negative evidence. First, Jesus never mentions homosexuality. Of all the things Jesus talked about, including sexual mores, if it were an important issue to God, I would think the writer of at least one of the four Gospels would have written it down. Second, the New Testament seems to be rather sloppy in its condemnation of homosexuality if it is in fact being condemned, given that the only words it uses are open to broad interpretation ("soft", "child molester", and idolatrous, lust-related sex acts), rather than existing Greek words that clearly refer to homosexuality, such as arrenomanes or erastes. Further, the I Co 6:9 usage of the juxtaposed terms arsenokoitai and malakos has been seen by some commentators as a prohibition of both active and passive roles in the homosexual act. This usage is inappropriate, however, because neither term has such a connotation for this usage in any other Greek source. Moreover, there were already specific juxtapositions used to refer to these two roles of homosexuality, namely drwntes and paschontes, or paiderastai and paidika. Thus the argument that Paul created these terms for lack of better terms has no linguistic support.

    To summarize the above evidence, and the evidence provided in the addenda, there are three primary reasons why I have become convinced that homosexuality is not sin. First, the linguistic and cultural evidence, allows me to accept the proposition that homosexuality is not condemned in Scripture from an intellectual perspective. Each of the relevant Scriptural passages that allegedly condemn homosexuality are found to be not referring to homosexuality at all, are found in a context which makes them irrelevant to loving, commited homosexual relationships, or are simply mistranslations. Second, if God wanted to condemn all homosexuality, God blatantly failed to do so for the first 4000 years of history considering that there is not the slightest hint of condemnation for lesbianism, only for male homosexuality, even though lesbianism existed at the time of the writing of the Old Testament, and that in verses contiguous with the prohibitions on male homosexuality, there are specific female sexual behaviors that are similarly prohibited (which counters the argument that the OT ignores female morality, and thus would not address lesbianism). The obvious conclusion from this, is that God's intent was not to condemn all homosexuality, only a form of male homosexuality that either makes those individuals ritualistically unclean or were active forms of pagan idolatry (see Addendum 2 for further explanation). It makes no sense for God, who in the New Testament shows us the inadequacy of the Old Testament Law, to add new Laws on top of the old Laws by suddenly including lesbianism in the list of prohibited behaviors, as is alleged to be the case in Romans 1. Finally, Jesus makes it exceedingly clear that all of the Law and the Prophets are summarized in two commands: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself (Matt 22:36-40). Neither of these two commands are violated by homosexual marriages, anymore than they are in heterosexual marriages. Homosexual Christians are no less apt to engage in behaviors which clearly exhibit the characteristics of these two commands, or of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23) than are heterosexual Christians. Therefore, I find no Scriptural or phenomenological evidence for the traditional Evangelical allegation that homosexuality is sin.

    It is based on the brief presentation of the summary evidence above that I have concluded that homosexuality is not sin. We are told that "love comes from God" (1 John 4.7). If this is true, and the love between a man and a woman in a long-term, committed relationship is truly love (which we can assume that logically flows from God), then why would not the love between a man and a man, or a woman and a woman in a similar relationship not also be from God? I contend that it is from God, and that God blesses homosexual relationships as God does heterosexual relationships

    Concise bibliography for this page
    Bibliography for Gay Studies

    Jeramy Townsley (updated 3/7/1998)

    ADDENDUM (these have been added based on e-mails to me or submissions to the message board)

    1. Marriage: One problem that some people have with homosexuality, while they may be able to accept the positive linguistic arguments above, is the fact that there are no Biblical "models" of a gay marriage. Therefore, they conclude, that since we have no gay married people in Scripture, but we have many examples of heterosexual marriages, that gay marriages have no Biblical basis (see Addendum 4 for a possible example of a Biblical example of a gay marriage). However, marriage is never well-defined in Scripture. In fact, even in the early church there was no unanimous way to proclaim a marriage. Marriage as a sacrament was not canonized until 1215 in the 4th Lateran Council (Boswell (1994), pg. 178). Marriage in the Greek and Roman sense was mainly a selling of the bride to the husband for the dowry. Since women had few rights, marriage was, in essence, a transfer of ownership of the daugther from the father to the husband. This was primarily the case in the upper social classes, and was a contractual affair. The lower classes did not have the contractual basis for marriages, and they were not recognized by the legal system (pg. 35). But no doubt some sort of communal acceptance of a couple's "union" occurred in the Greco-Roman system, even though it had no legal basis. In later Roman law marriage was recognized universally, and the rule was that "It was not cohabitation, but consent that makes marriage," and " Not coitus, but marital affection constitutes matrimony" (pg. 51). One of the few good definitions of marriage I can find in Scripture is Genesis 2:24 ("For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."). But the idea that this defines marriage is only implied, it is nowhere explicated. There are no definitions for the ritual of marriage. There is no place in Scripture that says "A couple will be considered married when thus and so occurs, or when the priest pronounces such and so." Thus we are left with looking to the culture in which Scripture uses the term marriage to help clarify for us what marriage entails, and to look at Biblical models for giving us guidelines on those relationships that we can infer are marriages, either from context, or by the usage of words such as husband and/or wife (ie Adam and Eve, Priscilla and Aquila, etc.)
    To say that the Bible excludes gay marriages from lack of Biblical models of gay marriages is weak evidence. There is no Biblical model for using crackers, grape juice, or disposable plastic cups for communion, but many churches do so. There is no Biblical model for a "baptismal" in the church (while there is archeological evidence) or sprinkling, but many churches do it. There is no Biblical model for children's ministry, music ministry, or even full-time paid staff. There is no Biblical model for using sound systems, slide projectors, church vans, crosses, holy water, hymnals, etc. for worship, but many churches use them anyway. What we see churches doing, is taking the symbols that are found in Scripture, and modifying them to be relevant to contemporary society. As long as the core of the Gospel message is left unaltered, and the truths and commands found in Scripture remain intact, most Christians would have little problem with contextualization. Further, they would probably be left spiritually adrift if a church didn't contextualize.
    Moreover, we have several models of marriage in Scripture. In the Old Testament, we have modeled both monogamy, and bigamy. There is no hint that either form of marriage is condemned in Scripture. They both seem to be on equal footing, and the prevalence of Biblical references seems to parallel the prevalence of the type of marriage in the culture of the time. We also find examples of arranged marriages--those arranged directly by God, those arranged by the ruler of the land, and those arranged by the families of the persons involved. We see marriages that are based on economic reasons, and even slave marriages. We see examples of women who are married primarily to bear children, women who are married out of love, and the assumption that a widow should marry the closest male relative of her dead husband. There is no good evidence that any of these forms of marriage are denounced in Scripture (see below at the end of Addendum 1).
    The conclusion I draw from this, is that the Biblical definition of marriage is reliant on cultural factors. There is no "Biblical norm" for marriage, other than behavioral norms "within" marriage. Even St. Augustine, representing ascetical early church orthodoxy "was willing to designate as a 'wife' any woman who intended to be permanently faithful to the man she lived with" (Boswell (1980), pg. 26). Despite his endless commands to avoid lust, and prohibitions of sexuality, he seems to admit by proxy the inability to tie Scripture down to rules of who can, and how to marry.
    We do, however, see many Biblical rules regarding the conduct of those who are already in a marriage. Behaviors such as love, fidelity, commitment and respect are all essential aspects to marriage. Homosexual marriages can have these equally as well as heterosexual marriages. There are no Biblical references which prohibit, or even imply a prohibition on gay marriages. The lack of gay marriage models in the Old Testament can be attributed to the lack of acceptance in the culture of the time, therefore there would be few gay married people, thus little probability that they would be modeled. In the New Testament, there are very few models of marriage (not rules for those already married, but models of who married at that time), especially compared to what we see in the Old Testament. Marriage is discussed, but rarely modeled. Homosexuality, however, was an accepted part of Greek culture. So it cannot be said that gay marriages weren't prohibited in the New Testament because they weren't known about at that time. The emperor Nero (ruled 54-68 CE) had a very public marriage ceremony to another man, and at least by Juvenal's time a couple of decades later, gay marriages were commonplace (Boswell (1994), pg. 80-81). Gay marriages did exist in the common forum, yet we see no Biblical prohibitions of them. Rather, what we do see, if we take Scripture as a whole, are various models of marriage, defined only by the community who recognizes the relationship as a marriage, and by the behavioral motifs mentioned above that characterize a godly marriage.

    (The following is a list of models of marriage that I find from Genesis to Judges. The primary argument being made in this addendum is that the Biblical models of marriage are not clear-cut, one-man to one-woman, as many people would like to believe. Moreover, the argument that we should use the strictly Biblical models of marriage for our current behavioral motifs is found to be absurd, once we actually look at the Biblical models. Most people will find these models abhorrent and would fight them were they seriously proposed today. In each of these models, there is neither clear denunciation, nor even implication that God disapproves of them, except for Genesis 2:22, which is the primary model we use in western society (marry whomever you choose).
    1) marriage by special creation: Adam and Eve, Gen 2.22 2) marriage to whomever they chose: Sons of God and daughters of men, Gen 1.1-3
    3) marriage of a master to a slave to bear children (polygamous) Abraham and Hagar, Gen 16.1-4; (and Gen 30.3-12 for Jacob) 4) ?implicit marriage by incest?: Lot and his daughters, Gen 19.30-
    5) marriage after having never met: Isaac and Rebekah, Gen 24 6) marriage to upset parents: Esau to Canaanites, Gen 28.8-9
    7) marriage by barter and treachery: Jacob and Leah, Gen 29.18-25 8) marriage by barter (polygamous): Jacob and Rachel, Gen 29.26-30
    9) marriage to one's aunt: Amram and Jochabed, Ex 6.20 (Moses' parents) 10) marriage of a slave to a woman chosen by the master. when the slave's time is up, the woman becomes the master's wife, and the slaves children becomes the master's children: Ex 21.4-6
    11) marriage by a conquering army of the women of the conquered country: Dt 21.10-14 12) if a man *dislikes* his new bride and her parent's can't prove her virginity, she is to be stones: Dt 22.13-21
    13) marriage by rape: Dt 22.28-29 14) requirement of marriage to a dead husband's brother: Dt 25.5-10
    15) daughter given as a prize to a victor: Josh 15.16-17 16) marriage by kidnapping: Judges 21.20-23

    2. The Jewish Testament: (added 1/6/98) The Jewish Testament is problematic to many Christians today. On the one hand, the same God who wrote the Christian Testament, also wrote the Jewish Testament. If God's essential character is unchanging, then how is it that the Jewish and Christian Testament pictures of God look so much different? Jesus even tells us in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:17, NIV) "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." But on the other hand, Jesus seems to counter-act the law when He lets the woman caught in adultery go free (John 8), and we are told numerous times in the Christian Testament that we are not saved by the law, but by faith, and that we have died to the law (Romans 7). This is a difficult position for the Evangelical Christian. It is, in fact, the one thing that at one point in my life drove me away from God. In my attempt to take seriously the Jewish and Christian Testaments, without "explaining away" with anthropological arguments the statements made in the OT and NT as not accurate, I was forced to conclude that God did not exist because there was no way to reconcile the Jewish and Christian Testaments. However, after about a year of atheism, and God teaching me many things through that time, God's grace and love was abundant enough to allow me the faith to accept that which I could not understand.
    With that said, there is a realism which must be used when discerning what it means to a Christian, yet follow the Jewish Testament. Granted, Jesus did not come to abolish the law. Yet, we seem to be given a new law in the NT (yet it is not new, it is old--1 Jn 2.7), on which is the grounding principle of all laws: 1) Love the Lord your God, 2) Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22.36ff). Verse 40 tells us that (NIV) "All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." With this in mind, it is easier to digest the apparent changes that were made from Jewish to Christian Testaments. First, the issue of models of marriage is addressed in Addendum 1, so will not be addressed here, other than to say that if marriage is to fulfill the law, it must first be a marriage that puts the love of God first, and second a love for the neighbor. Neither of these two laws are broken in a gay marriage. A person can have the same godly motivations and intentions when marrying a person of the same sex, as a person who wants to marry to the opposite sex. The only thing stopping many people from believing this is the mistaken idea that the Bible opposes homosexuality (which is, of course, what this web-site is for--to clarify and restore the original Biblical truth that homosexuality is an acceptable form of intimacy, rather than accept the cultural and traditional interpretation of homosexuality).
    Second, it is not the law that is our task to fulfill anyway, since Jesus fulfilled it for us. In His incarnation, life, and death, he fulfilled the requirements of the law, (Rom 8.2; NIV) "which because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." It is this freedom that allows us to worship God in Spirit and in Truth (John 4), no longer having to "go up to the mountain" or to "Jerusalem" to worship God (v. 20), which represents trying to worship God by following the Old Law.
    Third, it is not in the Evangelical tradition to say "we follow the Christian Testament, therefore the Jewish Testament is useless." Therefore, in keeping with that tradition, it is necessary to integrate the relevant OT passages with our NT theology. This integration comes in two forms. Primarily, as is already described above, by looking at the relevant passages and seeing if, in our culture, they allow us to fulfill the law of love. There are some commands from the Jewish Testament that do not allow us to do that today. For example, the law that if a man rapes a virgin and she becomes pregnant, he must marry her (Dt 22.28). In our culture, many women would rather see the rapist put in prison and get a job for herself to support herself and her child, rather than be married for the rest of her life to the man who raped her. If the goal of the command is love, then in the western mindset, the result is not love, but oppression.
    As a second step in theological integration, in addition to fulfilling the primary criteria, it is typically necessary to do a thorough exegesis of the problematic passage. By doing this we try to find an epistemologically sound way of integrating the OT passage into NT theology. In the case of homosexuality, there are several passages which deserve a better treatment than that which was presented in the original body of my message above. Below is a treatment of these passages.
    1) Genesis 38.1-11:This passage is not even about homosexuality, but it is used by some to support the position that sex was designed to produce children, and all sex acts not commensurate with this purpose are sinful. God condemns Onan for "spilling his seed on the ground" rather than produce a child for his dead brother's wife. This passage is also one of the primary texts used to condemn masturbation. This passage, however, was written to address neither homosexuality nor masturbation. It was written to show Onan's selfishness in refusing to bear children if the child would get his brother's name rather than his own (name includes not only "name" but all legal benefits derived from the name), thus leaving Onan without a namesake unless he could produce another child. To use this passage to condemn masturbation or homosexuality is to rip it from its context and misuse it for one's own alternate agenda. Moreover, if one buys into the argument that sex is only for making babies, then any marriage which did not produce children is illegitimate. Thus, following this line of reasoning with an infertile couple, the "fertile" spouse (if that could be determined) should legally and morally be expected to leave the marriage to find a fertile spouse. Even more reasonably, it would be morally appropriate to conduct fertility tests prior to marriage to prevent the illegitimate sex acts engaged in with the infertile spouse. This, however, is absurd, so the argument falls apart.
    2) 1 Kings 14.24, 15.12, 22.46: These and several other passages (Dt 24.17, 2 Kings 23.7, Job 36.14)use the Hebrew word qadesh, which has been translated homosexual in the past. However, current scholarship indicates that this word is best translated "male temple prostitute" (Theological Word Dictionary of the Old Testament), or even simply as "unclean." It comes from the word qadash which means sanctified or holy. The changing of the suffix produces the opposite meaning from the root word. There is extensive evidence that this word referred to males who engaged in homosexual sacred sex rituals in the worship of pagan gods (see the earlier discussion on galli.
    3) Genesis 18-19: This is one of the classical passages used to condemn homosexuality, especially when paired with Jude 7. However, neither of the two sexual words used in Jude 7 indicate or imply homosexuality: ekporneuo and "going after sarkos heteros". It is the latter phrase, literally meaning "different flesh" that has caused the connection. It has been implied, given that the male mob at Lot's door was wanting to have sex with the male angels inside Lot's house, that "going after different flesh" means wanting to have gay sex. However, there are many problems with this interpretation. First, the male mob at Lot's door was exactly that--a mob. They wanted to gang rape the men. This by itself should be enough to call into question the Genesis passage's relevance to loving, committed gay relationships. But second, when looking at the phrase "different flesh," the implication seems to be describing promiscuous sexual relationships, not homosexual relationships. Not only does none of the wording in this passage have any implication of homosexuality, but the wording sounds like an anti-parallel to the marriage texts, where the two flesh become one (Gen 2:24, Mk 10:8, I Co 6:16, Eph 5:31). The traditional reading of this text implicitly assumes that the natural order of creation requires that sex is limited to male and female relationships. Therefore, going after different flesh means desiring sex that is contrary to the order of nature, in other words, homosexuality(as mistakenly derived from Paul's natural theology from Romans 1). On the other hand, from the perspective that Jude 7 is actually an anti-parallel to the marriage texts, the emphasis is on having sex with a person that is not bone your bone, and flesh of your flesh, therefore, different flesh. In this reading of Jude 7, this passage is an implied support of relationships based on commitment and faithfulness, condemning only the behavior of having sex with whomever one chooses, whenever one wants (going after different flesh),and has nothing to do with homosexuality. This reading of the text is more faithful to the original Genesis 19 account, which focuses not on the homosexual aspect of the story, but on the promiscuity and aggressive nature of the mobs demand to rape the angels.
    However, what is most disconcerting regarding the traditional way of interpreting Jude as an anti-homosexual passage, is that the context and language of Jude 7 is completely ignored. The entire passage of vv 7-9 is talking about angels. In the traditional interpretation, the focus of angels is suddenly stopped in v. 6, and resumed again in v. 8, in order to make a brief digression to condemn homosexuality in v. 7. Not only does this do an injustice to the literary continuity of the passage, but it also ignores the historical context of the references, and the language used to describe the the events surrounding the reference. I have cited below several major commentaries, describing a much more appropriate interpretation of the passage, which is that the men of Sodom are being condemned for wanting to have sex with angels, thus "going after other flesh" (heteras sarkas). If Jude had intended to reference homosexuality, he would have used the language of "going after same flesh (homos sarkas). Jude's reference to the men having sex with angels references traditions that were being circulated during the first century, that "what happened between angels and humans in Gen 6:1-4 [where the angels ("sons of God") had sex with the "daughters of men")] that brought down God's fire was similar to what happened between angels and humans in Gen 6:1-4 that brought down God's flood" (Craddock, 1995).
    Reicke, Bo Ivar. 2 Peter, Jude. Doubleday: New York, 1964.
    p. 59: K Berger and J Schlosser identify a common tradition found in Sir 16:7-10, CD 2:17-3:12; T Naph 3:4-5; 3 Macc 2:4-7; m San 10:3; 2 Peter 2:4-9; and Jude 5-7.

    Kelly, JND. A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and of Jude. Harper and Row: New York, 1969.
    p. 258: This being the allusion here, many have interpreted lusted after different flesh (heteras sarkos) as meaning 'indulged in sodomy'. The Greek, however, does not tolerate this: it simply states that the flesh they desired was different (these good angels appeardd in human form, but their flesh presumably was different in kind), whereas in homosexuality, as J Chaine (ad loc.) aptly remarked, 'the natures are only too alike'. p. 259: Both had made their sin even more appalling by lusting after different flesh--the angels, because, spiritual beings though they were, they had coveted mortal women, and the Sodomites because, though only human beings, they had sought intercourse with angels.

    Horrell, David. The Epistles of Peter and Jude. Epworth Press: Peterborough, 1998.
    p. 121: Like the angels, these people 'indulges in sexual immorality' (NRSV) and 'went after other flesh'--ie non-human flesh. This last phrase is a better and more literal translation of the Greek than indulged in unnatural lusts because, as the account in Genesis 19.1-26 makes clear, it was two angels with whom the men of Sodom wanted to have sexual intercourse. This is why the two examples in verses 6 and 7 are comparable for Jude, and why it cannot be homosexual intercourse which the author has in mind here: just as the angels left their proper place and indulged in sexual immorality with humans, so the men of Sodom sought to violate the proper order in creation and to have sex with angels.

    Craddock, Fred. First and Second Peter and Jude. Westminster John Knox Press: Louisville, 1995.
    p. 139: The third and final lesson warns against sexual immorality, a warning that draws upon the classic case of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). That the men of Sodom and Gomorrah "pursued unnatural lust" (li., "pursued other flesh," v. 7) involved more than homosexuality. They desired sex with the two supernatural beings who visited Lot. For Jude, what happened between angels and humans in Gen 6:1-4 that brought down God's fire was similar to what happened between angels and humans in Gen 6:1-4 that brought down God's flood. That the intruders in the church had some unhealthy fascination with angelic beings (vv. 8-9) should not go unnoticed, even though the causes and expressions of that relationship are not clear to us. It is evident in verse 8 that these disrupters are so arrogant as to blaspheme the angelic servants of God who bring God's message and execute God's judgments. In other words, they are in total rebellion against heaven. But verses 6-7 at least imply a connection or a desired connection between the troublemakers and supernatural beings by means of sex.

    Bauckham, Richard. Jude, 2 Peter. Word Books: Waco, 1983.
    p. 54: "which practiced immorality in the same way as the angels and hankered afer strange flesh" The second clause explains the first. As the angels fell because of their lust for women, so the Sodomites desired sexual relations with angels. The reference is to the incident in Gen 19:4-11. sarkos eteras "strange flesh," cannot, as many commentators and most translations assume, refer to homosexual practice, in which the flesh is not "different" (eteras); it must mean the flesh of angels. ... The two cases are similarly brought together in T. Napht 3:4-5.

    Green, Michael. The Second Epistle General of Peter and the General Epistle of Jude. Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, 1987.
    p. 180: The men of Sodom and Gomorrah enganed in homosexuality: that was unnatural. But Jude may mean that just as the angels fell because of their lust for women, so the Sodomites fell because of their lust for angels (sarkos heteras indeed!).

    Cranfield, CEB. I and II Peter and Jude. SCM Press: London, 1960.
    p. 159: But it is more probable that the reference is to the fact that, as the fallen angels had sought intercourse with human beings, so the men of Sodom sought intercourse with angels (the two angels in p. 160: Lot's house). This interpretation is confirmed by the following clause, gone after strange flesh, ie, after that belonging to a different order of being. To interpret 'strange' as referring to the unnaturalness of intercourse with the same sex is scarcely possible.

    Hays, Richard. The Moral Vision of the New Testament. Harper: San Francisco, 1996.
    p. 404: The phrase "went after other flesh" (apelQousai opisw sarkos heteras) refers to their pursuit of non-human (ie angelic!) "flesh." The expression sarkos heteras means "flesh of another kind"; thus, it is impossible to construe this passage as a condemnation of homosexual desire, which entails precisely the pursuit of the same kind.

    As for Genesis 19 itself, I believe the new reading of the Jude passage clearly tells us what the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was, and why God's wrath was poured out on it it (Ezekiel 16:49 brings in a different emphasis on the sin of Sodom, but again clearly specifying the nature of the sin, of which homosexuality is not part of that description). The inhabitants made a habit of roaming around engaging in orgies, gang-rape, whatever and whenever they wanted, with no ideals or attempts at the kinds of relationships God intended for humans to have, namely relationships based on intimacy with each other, grounded in intimacy with God.
    I want to make it clear, because of posts on my message board from those who disagree with me, that there is no reason to believe that the incident mentioned in Genesis 18-19 was a one time event. I agree with those who rightly point out that this kind of behavior was probably common. But when I claim that this passage does not relate to specifically homosexuality because of the implication of gang-rape, I do not believe that Sodom was destroyed because of this one event, as some have assumed I believe. They are right in stating that God intended in chapter 18, before the description of Lot's story, to destroy the two cities. Again, they rightly state that it was not the events in chapter 19 that call for the cities' destruction. It is because of their general habit of engaging in such behaviors that cause their destruction. However, those same people also seem to assume that the events prior to the Lot account were homosexual, and it is because of those accounts that Sodom is destroyed. This assumption is entirely unwarranted. Other than the Jude passage, the only discussion of the nature of the sin of Sodom is found quite clearly in Ezekiel 16:49 (NIV) "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.", which clearly has no homosexual connotations.
    4) Leviticus 18.19-22, 20.13-18: As with the Roman's passage, the two ways to interpret this passage are that 1) they may be referring to all homosexual behavior, or 2) they may be referring to a specific type of homosexual behavior that limits the passages' applicability to modern culture. However, regarding the former interpretation, even if it could be shown to be referring to all homosexual behavior (which it clearly doesn't as will be demonstrated), there is still the question of integrating this command with contemporary society, given that the context contains many commands contrary to current Christian practice. To reject a clear command of the OT is rarely an attractive option for the Evangelical and such a decision must be made based on clear hermeneutical rules. In this case, I follow four lines of reasoning for rejecting the applicability of this passage to contemporary Christians as it has been understood by many conservative Christians.

    First, the historical record adequately demonstrates that homosexuality was used as a form of cultic pagan worship. There are several references to sacred prostitution in Scripture. Most of the clear references to the nature of the sexuality come from the Jewish Testament. In most of these cases, the references describe the vdq, the male "holy ones" (Deut 23:17, 1 Kgs 14:24, 1 Kgs 15:12, Kgs 22:46, 2 Kgs 23:7, Job 36:4, Hos 4:14). During the 2nd and early 1st millennia BCE we find evidence of sacred sex practices by the cultures that would have impacted the growing Jewish nation. Such an impact can be seen in the commands attributed to Yhvh to banish the vdq from the land and to avoid all of their non-Israelite practices. Placing the prohibitions on same-gender sex, as found in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, into the context of sacred/ritualized sex, becomes a distinct possibility in light of the surrounding cultures.

    One possible link to the vdq mentioned in the Jewish Testament and the assinu of the goddesses is the reference in Dt 23:17-18 to "dogs": "No Israelite man or woman is to become a shrine prostitute (vdq). You must not bring the earnings of a female prostitute (hnz) or of a male prostitute (blk, or 'dog') into the house of the Lord your God to pay any vow, because the Lord your God detests them both." In this text, the author seems to be using the word 'dog' in a derogatory sense, in the same way we tend to today when using it to refer to a person. However, the derogatory sense of 'dog' was not universal at the time. It often was used in reference to the faithfulness of a trusted and loyal servant. Thomas notes the promise of Abdi-Asratu to Pharaoh: "I am the servant of the king, and the dog of his house", calling himself "Pharaoh's faithful watch-dog" (T. D. Winton, "Kelebh 'Dog': Its Origin and Some Usages of it in the Old Testament." Vetus Testamentum 10 (1960) 410-427. See 424.) The term for 'dog' used here is kalbu, similar to the title of the goddess priests, the kalu, as discussed above, and could also be compounded with the title of a god to show priestly servitude to that god: "Kalbi-Sin, Kalbi-Samas, Kalbi-Marduk (Ibid, 425) Thomas goes on to mention, "At the temple of Astarte at Kition in Cyprus there were cultic persons, temple servants, who were called klbm" (Ibid, 425). Moreover, another ancient term for a sexual-variant priest, assinu, "joins the [Sumerogram] symbols for 'dog' and 'woman'" (D. Greenberg, The Construction of Homosexuality (University of Chicago) London, 1988, 95; Thomas, 426. See also M. Nissinen, Homoeroticism in the Biblical World: A Historical Perspective, (Minneapolis: Fortress) 1998, 41. Most Evangelical commentators believe that Paul's condemnations of homosexuality in Romans 1 and 1 Co 6 are an affirmation of the condemnations found in Leviticus. This belief is made more plausible given the historical connection between the practices found in both Paul's culture and the Levitical culture. I made the case earlier that Paul's Romans 1 condemnation is directed to the pagan temple sex rituals that were occurring in the Goddess temples. The practices in the two cultures were virtually identical, both worshipping a Mother Goddess cultic sex rituals. In each of these situations the passages have nothing to say about homosexual marriage-like relationships, only sexual practices connected with non-Yahwistic temple rituals.

    Second, I rely somewhat on the usage of the word tow'ebah, with the assumption that these behaviors make one ritualistically unclean. The OT life was characterized by the constant struggle to be clean. Leviticus is filled with multiple chapters designed to make sure that God's people were clean. The pronouncements against contact with blood, with disease, with certain foods, etc., were attempts to make one clean before God. Of the "Law" found in the OT, it can be classified into three categories: moral, social and ritualistic. Moral codes and social codes seem proscriptive for most cultures, in that they tend to fulfill the law of love explicated in the NT. Such laws as don't steal, don't commit adultery, don't worship other Gods, etc. fall into these categories. They limit general relationship behaviors, and criminal behaviors. Other behaviors, specifically cleanliness behaviors, seem to have been overturned in the NT, given that Jesus has taken all uncleanness onto Himself, thus our only uncleanness comes from our heart, not from external things. For example, in Leviticus 11.7, the Jews are prohibited from eating pork because it is unclean. However, in Peter's dream in Acts 10, God tells Peter that unclean food has now been made clean. Similarly, with lepers, who were unclean and could make another person unclean by touching thus were to be kept out of the city, Jesus welcomed them and touched them. In both Leviticus 18 and 20 we have another reason to believe that these sex acts made one ritually unclean, and were not meant for "social" Law. In Leviticus 18:19, and 20:18 a man is prohibited from having sex with a woman during her menstrual cycle, which in Leviticus 15:33 we are told specifically that both the woman and the man lying with her are ritualistically unclean (tame'). To make this point exceedingly clear, in Leviticus 15.2-5, we are given cleanliness codes for women having undergone childbirth. Women having given birth to a son are unclean for 7 days. However, women having given birth to a daughter are unclean for 66 days. During these times, she could not participate in religious festivals or be touched by anyone. It is clear that there are things in the OT that Evangelicals would never consider following, and most of these fall under the Laws of Uncleanness. It is my contention that, given the clear and conspicuous usage of tow'ebah in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, that uncleanness is the intention.

    So, I conclude from the use of tow'ebah here, that in these verses the behaviors are specifically designed to delineate behaviors which make one ritualistically unclean. The one counter-argument that can be raised against this is that, if we say that each of these behaviors are now "clean" and we can engage in them then we are supporting incest and bestiality, since prohibitions against both of these are found in Leviticus 18 and 20. But this is not necessarily the case. While these particular chapters are designed to delineate ritualistic uncleanness, that doesn't mean that any of these activities can't be classified under another branch of law. For example, bestiality is mentioned in two other passages other than in Leviticus (Ex 22.19, and Dt 27.21), as is incest. Homosexuality, however, is never mentioned outside of these passages, other than those passages mentioned earlier in this Addendum, none of which refer to homosexuality in loving committed relationships. Finally, this position is not a new one, but was the position of the early church. Both Eusebius of Ceasaria, and the Apostolic Constitutions state that the uncleanness that is derived from this behavior found in Leviticus 18 and 20 is ritual, not moral (Boswell (1980), pg. 102).

    Third, the contention of the anti-gay groups is that these verses deal with homosexuality in general. However, these verses deal specifically with male-male sexual relations. There is only one passage in all of Scripture which allegedly deals with lesbianism, and that is in Romans 1. So if one wants to call lesbianism sinful, then one must necessarily use that passage, and that passage alone. It is not being faithful to the Leviticus texts to apply them to lesbians. The usage here is not a single Hebrew word or idiom which can refer to any sex acts between the same gender. Rather, the texts clearly say, "if a man lies with a man as with a woman." There is no leeway in these texts to include lesbian acts in this pronouncement. This is important, because it does not seem consistent to condemn male homosexuality and not female homosexuality, if the point of condemning homosexuality is because it is "unnatural." This condemnation of only male homosexuality in these passages leads me to look for a deeper intention behind the condemnation, other than the broad condemnation of all homosexuality. While this deeper intention may or may not be related to tow'ebah as outlined above, it certainly indicates to me that homosexuality in general is not what is being prohibited.

    Finally, I must return to the relationship between the OT Law and the NT. As a group, Evangelicals struggle very hard to retain an integrity of the Scriptures. Without this, we are left to pick and choose Scriptures that we like, throwing out those we don't like. This is epistemologically unsound, and therefore theologically unwise. But in our attempts to do this, we have often set up blinders that prevent us from seeing outside of our traditions. Homosexuality is one of them. We point to such OT passages as mentioned above to prove our point. We follow this up by quoting that "not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law." However, when we do that, we become hypocrites. Below are many things that most Evangelicals would never support, yet are found clearly in the OT Law. Can we honestly reject these, yet uncritically accept Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13? Such a position degrades our integrity. We must re-think our position on these OT verses, and proclaim things we know are foundational to fulfilling the Two Primary Laws defined by Love. When we devote so much time to hating homosexuality, we are failing to fulfill the Laws of Love.
    This is a list of OT commands (listed only from Exodus-Deuteronomy) that most Evangelicals would have a hard time following or supporting. The purpose is not to show the irrelevancy of the OT. On the contrary, there is an incredible harmony between the OT and NT, and there is much that the OT teaches us about God. However, the OT is much abused by people who claim that all of the OT laws must be kept (at least those that they deem still valid, such as the alleged laws against homosexuality), but at the same time exclude many of the following laws. There are many laws not listed that we would not keep, such as sacrificial laws, or priestly laws. I have not included these because most Christians agree that Jesus took those laws on himself, and therefore are not ours to fulfill. Finally, there may be some, or even many of the following laws that individual groups may still want to follow, thus claim that my argument is invalid. However, for that to be true, then every law must be followed, not just some or most. The purpose, again, is to point out that care must be taken when referring back to OT law to support claims of sinfulness. A much better method would be to compare an action against the Law of loving God, and the Law of loving your neighbor as yourself, along with the other guidelines we are given in the New Testament.

    ch 12-14, 15
    19.23-25, 27
    20.10-18, 17
    ch 23-24
    Here are some examples of the above verses, which one must also demand be followed if one is going to demand that the alleged commands against homosexuality in Leviticus 18 & 20 be followed:

    Lev 19:27
    Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.

    Ex 21:17
    Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.

    Num 19:13
    Whoever touches the dead body of anyone and fails to purify himself defiles the LORD's tabernacle. That person must be cut off from Israel. Because the water of cleansing has not been sprinkled on him, he is unclean; his uncleanness remains on him.

    Dt 22: 9-12
    Do not plant two kinds of seed in your vineyard; if you do, not only the crops you plant but also the fruit of the vineyard will be defiled. Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together. Do not wear clothes of wool and linen woven together. Make tassels on the four corners of the cloak you wear.

    Dt 22:28-29
    If a man happens to meet a virgin who is not pledged to be married and rapes her and they are discovered, he shall pay the girl's father fifty shekels of silver. He must marry the girl, for he has violated her. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

    Num 15:32-38
    While the Israelites were in the desert, a man was found gathering wood on the Sabbath day. Those who found him gathering wood brought him to Moses and Aaron and the whole assembly, and they kept him in custody, because it was not clear what should be done to him. Then the LORD said to Moses, "The man must die. The whole assembly must stone him outside the camp." So the assembly took him outside the camp and stoned him to death, as the LORD commanded Moses. The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: `Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel.

    3. Greek Culture and Homosexuality: There are several important issues that must be addressed when trying to understand Greek/Roman homosexuality, and how it influenced the New Testament writers. First, until recently, many people believed that the only type of homosexuality Paul would have known about as he wrote his letters, is pederasty. Pederasty is a custom that is practiced in many cultures, but is very much absent, and even offensive to most Western cultures. In the Greek world, an older man, an erastes would take an eromenos, a boy between 12-18 (after onset of puberty), as a student. The relationship that was expected to occur by the parents, and both erastes and eromenos, involved the man teaching hunting, warfare, adult male customs, etc., to the boy. An integral part of this relationship was anal or intercrural intercourse, with the teacher being the active partner and the student playing the passive role. The rationale of this is two-fold. First, in Greek culture, semen contained important spiritual, masculine qualities, such as arete (virtue), power, etc., that would be passed on to the student during the sex act. Second, social roles were demonstrated. Females had no rights in Greek culture, and were considered property. In the Greek mindset, men's dominance of women was a part of nature, and must be expressed in every aspect of the male-female relationship. In the erastes/eromenos relationship, the teacher is the dominant player, and must subjugate his student. In this way, the student is inculcated with skills in domination. Regardless of our cultural judgment on this form of ritual propagation of ideology, this was an integral part of Greek culture in certain geographical locations and periods.

    It has been thought that this was the only type of homosexuality that Paul knew when he wrote his letters. This, however, has been shown to be incorrect. Several authors, such as Dover (2nd edition), Boswell (1994), and Smith clearly show that pederasty was not the only form of homosexuality known in Greek and Roman culture in the first century CE. Smith and Boswell especially give numerous examples of homosexual relationships that are not age-structured, and that are based on mutual consent. Moreover, we find that both Roman and Greek cultures accepted homosexuality, and at times instituted it in non-pederastic forms. For example, Polybius (2nd century BCE, Rome) reports that "most young men had male lovers" (Greenberg, p. 154). Further, "many of the Roman emperors had homosexual tastes," and "in Greece, sexual preferences were frequently not exclusive," to the inclusion of Julius Caesar (Cato: who states that he was "every woman's husband, and every man's wife"; pg. 155-56). At any rate, it has been argued by some that Paul's use of arsenokoites and malakos is for lack of a better expression for homosexuality in general. The argument is that Paul wanted to condemn not only pederasty, but all forms of homosexuality, so he could not have used erastes/eromenos because that would have apparently limited his condemnation to pederasty. However, current scholarship indicates that the terms erastes and eromenos were not used exclusively for the boy-man, subordinate-dominant relationship. On the contrary, these terms can refer to a relationship of long-lasting duration and equality between partners (Dover, 84-7).

    This brings us to our second point, which is that Paul's intentional meaning for the word arsenokoites is far from clear. Paul had many different words at his disposal that referred to homosexuality in general, not just pederastic relationships, as was once thought. In this line of reasoning, Paul coined the term from the Septuagint, as discussed above, because there was no word that expressed all homosexual acts, regardless of the type of relationship. This is now known to not be the case, so we must search further for the meaning of this word. The best way to learn the meaning of this word is to look at its usage in other contexts. The problem is that we primarily find arsenokoites in lists, which give us little information as to the meaning of the word. A search of the Thesaurus Lingua Graecae database as of 1997 shows 73 usages. Most of these are in lists that are of the same basic pattern as that found in 1 Corinthians 6:9 or 1 Timothy 1:10, using mostly the same words. The few contexts in which we find these words do not necessitate that we interpret the word to mean generalized homosexual behavior.

    One method of interpreting the word is to try to discern some meaning from the use of arsenokoites in the lists. Martin notes that "sin lists" tend to congregate words of similar type together. For example, "first are listed, say, vices of sex, then those of violence, then others related to economics, or injustice" (pg. 120). In most of the TLG listings, the order is fairly standard (but not universal): , pornoi, moixoi, malakoi, arsenokoitai, kleptai, pleonektai, methusoi, loidoroi, with some substitution of andrapodistais kai epiorkrois following arsenokoites. Translated, the pattern is as follows: temple prostitution, adultery, moral weakness (malakos), arsenokoites, thief, greedy, drunks, foul-mouthed; or arsenokoites, slave-trader, perjurer. In the TLG lists, the division is not very clear, other than the first half of the list seems to be sexual, then arsenokoites is listed, then economic/injustice sins, sometimes followed by moral sins. If this were all we had, then we would not know on which side to classify arsenokoites--whether purely sexual, purely economic, or some mixture of the two. However, there are two non-TLG texts, both of which are early usages of arsenokoites, the first of which is from the Sibylline Oracle 2
    "Do not steal seeds. Whoever takes for himself is accursed (to generations of generations, to the scattering of life. Do not arsenokoites, do not betray information, do not murder.) Give one who has labored his wage. Do not oppress a poor man." (Martin, pg. 120)

    Similarly, the second text, from the Acts of John 36:

    "And let the murderer know that the punishment he has earned awaits him in double measure after he leaves this (world). So also the poisoner, sorcerer, robber, swindler, and arsenokoites, the thief, and all of this band..." (Martin, pg. 121)

    In neither of these texts do we find them in the context of purely sexual sins. In fact, we see no hint of sexuality at all in these lists. We do know, however, that arsenokoites is some type of sexual sin. However, if we put in the English translation "homosexual" in place of arsenokoites in these lists, it makes no sense. It doesn't fit with the categories. What makes much more sense, is if the placing of arsenokoites in the TLG texts in between the sexual sins and economic/injustice sins is not an accident. What makes sense is that arsenokoites is a term referring somehow to sexual injustice. For example, when arsenokoites is placed just before slave-trader, this seems particularly appropriate, since homosexual slaves were normative in both Greek and Roman societies. The interpretation of arsenokoitai therefore, as one of homosexual subjugation and/or exploitation, rather than referring to all homosexual behavior, seems most appropriate as we see from these contexts.

    This type of connotation to arsenokoites fits well within two other TLG texts, both of which are early uses of the word. The first is out of the Apology of Aristides, chapters 9 and 13. It is relays the myth of Zeus, and his relationship with the mortal Ganymede. In the story, we are told that the myth is evidence that Greek gods act with moixeia (adultery) and arsenokoites. Similarly, in Hippolytus' Refutatio chapter 5, we are told the story of the evil angel Naas, and how he committed adultery with Adam in the Garden, which is how arsenokoites came into the world. Hippolytus relates Naas and Adam back to Zeus and Ganymede (Petersen, pg. 284). In neither of these instances do we find a mutually consenting, equal relationship--we find an aggressor forcibly taking advantage of a weaker individual. In fact, Dover, when describing Greek art depicting Zeus and Ganymede, says that

    Zeus in B186 and R348* commands Ganymede in a manner that will not accept refusal . . ., and in R405, R829*, R833* he simply grasps Ganymede, who struggles violently. (p. 93)
    Dover later mentions two texts, one by Ibykos fr. 289, and the other, The Hymn of Aphrodite 202-206, which puts the Zeus and Ganymede story in the specific context of rape by drawing the parallel between it and the story of Dawn and Tithonos (p. 197). The human rights violations that are clear in the above uses of arsenokoites gives us a fairly clear indication of the meaning of the word, a meaning which matches the attributed meaning we surmised about arsenokoites as it was found in the few contexts/lists that we have. It seems clear that arsenokoites does not refer to mutually respecting gay relationships, but to a powerful aggressor subjugating/exploiting the weak, whether in the context of rape, or slave trading.

    4. David and Jonathan: There have been several attempts to point to alleged homosexual couples in the Bible, primarily Ruth and Naomi, Daniel and Ashpenaz, and David and Jonathan. More recently, there have been a proposal that there was a gay relationship between the Centurion and his servant who requested to be healed by Jesus. The arguments regarding Ruth/Naomi and Daniel/Ashpenaz are far from compelling for me. The arguments regarding David and Jonathan, however, while not quite compelling, leave open the strong possibility that they were involved in an homosexual marriage. Starting from the crux of the argument at 1 Samuel 18:21, Saul tells David, that by marrying Saul's daughter Michal, David will be his son-in-law for the second time (Hebrew: "bstym ttctn by hynm"). The actual translation of this phrase is somewhat controversial, being literally translated "You will become my son-in-law through two." In this instance, the correct interpretation of this verse is crucial, because it radically shapes our view of David and Jonathan's relationship, since Scripture only indicates that David had any kind of relationship with two of Saul's children: Jonathan and Michal. Some translations interpret this verse as meaning that Saul "said for the second time," or that David has a "second opportunity" to become Saul's son-in-law. These interpretations, however, are strained, and the Hebrew does not easily lend itself to mean either of these. Most standard translations clearly interpret the verse to mean that David will become Saul's son-in-law for the second time (NIV being the primary exception, and the RSV is ambiguous):
    ASV: Wherefore Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law a second time.
    RSV: Therefore Saul said to David a second time, "You shall now be my son-in-law."
    BBE: So Saul said to David, Today you are to become my son-in-law for the second time.
    DBY: And Saul said to David, Thou shalt this day be my son-in-law a second time.
    YLT: Saul saith unto David, `By the second -- thou dost become my son-in-law to-day.'
    NAS: Therefore Saul said to David, "For a second time you may be my son-in-law today."

    The question then becomes what Saul actually meant if he is telling David that he will become his son-in-law for the second time. The first offer Saul made to David for a wife was Merab, but she married Adriel of Meholah instead (18:19). The only other covenant made between Saul's family and David was between David and Jonathan in 18:3, which is not a covenant of business or politics, but of friendship/love ("ahbh"). Moreover, this relationship is described in very strong emotive language, starting in 18:1. Prior to looking at this more closely, an understanding of the story up to this point is helpful. In chapter 17, we find David's older brothers going to war against the Philistines while David stays at home. David is then sent to take food to his brothers, following which is the classic David and Goliath story. As David goes back to Saul after killing Goliath, we see that David is totally unknown to King Saul (17:58). However, as David talks to King Saul, Jonathan falls in love with David, after having never met him, or talked to him (which has a vague sound of "love at first sight" in our culture).
    1 Samuel 18:1-4 (NIV)
    1 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself.
    2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father's house.
    3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself.
    4 Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

    While there is no similarity between the Hebrew phrases in 1 Samuel 18:1-2 above and in Genesis 2:24, there is a striking similarity in concepts between the son leaving the parents to join to a spouse, and the two becoming one:
    Genesis 2:24 (NIV)
    For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

    When we put together chapter 18, from the beginning, with Jonathan's strong emotional affection towards David and their subsequent covenant, to the end, where we see Saul referring to David being his son-in-law a second time with his marriage to Michal, we see the very strong possibility that David and Jonathan were joined in a covenant that Saul recognized as a marriage. This line of reasoning, while persuasive to me, it is not conclusive. First, I don't know that we have any other extant Hebrew literature of that era that refers to a gay marriage, which would lead one to question whether or not Saul would have seen David and Jonathan's covenant as one of legal marriage. If not, then the only possibility for Saul's language in 18:21 is that he was referring to David's second son-in-law status as coming from the original promise by Saul to give Merab to him (18:17), even though Merab married another man. A second possible criticism is that this argument is made from conjecture, that no specific reference is made to marriage (ynh, yqch) or sexual activity. This, however, is not a valid criticism. The words referring to marriage in the Old Testament are typically in the context of being "taken" or "given" (yqch) as property (byvlh) or protector/provider (ybm), since women had no rights in Hebrew culture, and were considered property to be given/sold. This aspect of marriage would not have been applicable to David and Jonathan's relationship. The other primary word translated as marry is actually the exact same word as "woman" (ishh), which obviously isn't applicable in this case. As for the lack of specific reference to sexual activity which would definitively signify marriage, very few Old Testament relationships which are clearly marriage relationships have subsequent descriptions of sexual activity, therefore it is improbable that such a characterization would be applied here either. However, 2 Samuel 1:26 may even be a reference to sexual activity between David and Jonathan. After Jonathan has been killed, David mourns his death, and says the following (NIV):
    26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.

    In Hebrew culture, similar to many mid-eastern cultures today, men and women did not engage in platonic relationships. They were either married, or they had no relationship. In this case, David compares his relationship with Jonathan to the relationship with a woman, strongly indicating a marriage/sexual relationship. Further, the word used for love here (ahbh; used also in 1 Samuel 18:3 and 1 Samuel 20:17 referring for Jonathan's love for David) is the same word used in Genesis 29:20 for Jacob's love for Rachel, and is used repeatedly in Song of Songs. It is typically translated as love in the context of a marriage or sexual desire (Proverbs 5:19, etc.; see Strong's concordance #0160).

    After this analysis we are left with two questions. First, could Saul have legally seen David and Jonathan's covenant as marriage, to the extent that he would call David a son-in-law. Second, is the intensity of the language referring to Jonathan's love and covenant with David, and David's reference to his love for Jonathan, enough to sustain the belief that they were engaged in a marriage covenant? Neither of these questions can be answered definitively. Whether or not Saul would have legally condoned this relationship can only be answered with further research into the marriage documents from that time. However, the conceptual parallel of marriage between 1 Samuel 18:1-2 and Genesis 2:24, the intensity and type of language used in 1 Samuel 18:1-4 and subsequent covenant between Jonathan and David, and David's comparison of his love to that of women certainly leads me to the conclusion that their relationship could have been one of marriage.

    5. The Teleological Argument (Argument from Design/Nature): Another argument against homosexuality is the "teleological argument" or the argument from nature. It is alleged that since God initially made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, that God's only intent for human marriage relationships/sexuality was heterosexual. However, this is an assumption based on silence, since the language used to describe marriage/sex as male and female can be archetypal in nature, and is not necessarily a precise definition. For example, Scripture clearly mentions breaking of bread and wine for the communion ritual. However, modern churches take this as an archetype and represent this symbol in different ways (wafers, grape juice, etc). Similarly, there is no reason to think that the singular representation of male-female unions is similarly not archetypal, as will be expounded more below (see also the discussion in Addendum 1: Marriage).

    One of the key issues in the discussion of sex and marriage is the question of what are the primary components of the marriage relationship. Traditionally, procreation has been one of the most important aspects of marriage/sex. It is my contention that procreation is only a minor component of the marriage relationship, and that much more important are the components of intimacy, security, exclusivity, fidelity, mutual commitment and faithfulness. Moreover, even if procreation is at some level in integral component of the intention for the marriage relationship, that metaphor for that function can be satisfied by other ways other than just biological reproduction, i.e., community service, foster parenting/adoption, etc.

    There are several ways that appropriate sexual behavior is expressed in Scripture, other than mere procreation. Take Song of Solomon, for example. The whole book is (from a literalist perspective), a celebration of the love between a man and a woman, with a strong emphasis on sexuality. This emphasis on sexuality is not depicted as a means to produce offspring, but as a means to solidify the couple's love for each other. The sexuality described in this book is a very sensuous type of behavior, filled with passion and desire for the other person, not as a means for having children. Even in the first few verses of the book we see a celebration of sex as an apparent end to itself, or as a means to deepened intimacy :

    Song of Solomon 1:2-4 (NIV)
    2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth-- for your love is more delightful than wine. 3 Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you! 4 Take me away with you--let us hurry! Let the king bring me into his chambers. We rejoice and delight in you; we will praise your love more than wine. How right they are to adore you!

    In the Prophets we see an aspect of marriage in the metaphors that God uses to express anger at God's people. In the book of Hosea, Hosea is commanded to marry a prostitute to symbolize through his marriage the adulterous relationship Israel has shown to God. Similarly, many times in Jeremiah we see God calling Israel an adulterer for forsaking God for idols.

    Hosea 3:1 (NIV)
    The LORD said to me, "Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes."

    Jeremiah 3:8 (NIV)
    I gave faithless Israel her certificate of divorce and sent her away because of all her adulteries. Yet I saw that her unfaithful sister Judah had no fear; she also went out and committed adultery.

    And again, we see in Jeremiah the significance of devotion in the marriage relationship:

    Jeremiah 2:2 (NIV)
    "Go and proclaim in the hearing of Jerusalem: "`I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desert, through a land not sown.

    Creation, Procreation and Marriage

    We primarily see the procreative emphasis for marriage/sex in Genesis 1-3, on which we see Paul basing his "natural theology" in Romans 1 and elsewhere (1 Tim 2:11-15, where we see Paul commanding women to be silent and not teach men, because Adam was created first, and Eve was deceived first; 1 Cor 11:4-16; etc.). However, while it is indisputable that God commanded Adam and Eve in Gen 1:28 to "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it," that does by no means imply that the sole, primary, or even permanent component of marriage/sex is child-bearing. On the contrary, there is nothing in the nature of this command that implies that it even has to do with a marriage relationship, other than eisegesis from other texts that sexuality (thus "increasing in number") is to be done only within marriage relationships. For example, just several verses prior, in Gen 1:22, God similarly commanded the birds and the fish to "Be fruitful and increase in number."

    This aspect of human nature, to "Be fruitful and increase in number," is related to humanity as creatures, not humanity as image of God. There are two crucial points to understand in this regards. First, the contention that God's primary intention for marriage was procreation is not supportable from Scripture. Second, while a case can be made from the Old Testament that marriage and procreation was an assumed part of adult relationships, that assumption is overturned in the New Testament. Regarding the first allegation, that God's intention for human marriage relationships was primarily procreation, the only passages that are capable of sustaining such a belief is the Gen 1:28 verse, be fruitful and multiply. However, given that this command is also spoken to the animals, it does little to support the relationship of humans to God. This description of sexuality colors it with a very primal feel, one that is instinctual in all animals and humans, and is one thing that strongly relates humans to the rest of creation: our procreative capacities, and our gender separation. However, it is by no means a reflection of our relationship to God. God is not gender separated. God is neither male nor female. While we have many texts in which God is described as He, Father, and masculine, one can also not deny the aspect of the divine feminine, such as in Proverbs 8, where Wisdom is personified as a woman, and in texts where God is nurturer and pro-creator (as in Genesis 1-2). Human male and femaleness does not personify Imago Dei, but rather our likeness to creation. Rather, what personifies Imago Dei is, our capacity to relate to one another, and to God, just as God, in the Divine Trinity, is self-relational and desires relationship with us. Just as God is faithful and loving to us, human Imago Dei is characterized by our capacity to be faithful and loving back to God, as well as faithful and loving to other people. There is never a time when God calls Israel an adulterer for not producing offspring. Rather, Israel is called an adulterer for breaking relationship with God, and joining with other gods/nations. Neither is there a time when God condones or encourages a man to divorce his wife for not producing offspring--only for adultery. What we see of the marriage/sex relationship when God first created it in Genesis 2:23-24(NIV) is the statement that "this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh . . . a man will leave his mother and father and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh." What we see as the definition of the relationship is one of joining two people together, with no rationale for procreation. Again, in Gen 2:18 (NIV) we read about God's intention for creating Eve for Adam: "The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.' " God doesn't say, "I will make the man a person with whom to make children." One cannot deny the reproductive capacities that God did inherently make in the female, and my intent is not to dismiss the reproductive aspect of human nature. However, God's verbal description of the relationship God initially conctructed between Adam and Eve is of someone to alleviate Adam's alone-ness, not as somebody with whom to make babies. The primacy of the initial act of creating a partner for Adam was to produce relationship.

    One cannot deny that procreation is inherent in the nature of the male-female sexual relationship. However, the very nature of the marriage relationship seems to allow for an alternative for procreation, while the primary characteristics of marriage have no counterparts. For example, a couple that cannot produce children is capable of multiple ways of pro-creating. By engaging in community service, parenting neighborhood children when the needs arise, even adopting children, the couple can produce life from their marriage that becomes the metaphor for the life produced by biological reproduction. While they may have no children of their own, their capacity to mother/father can be expressed in many other ways than giving birth and raising their own biological offspring as they relate to, and nurture other people in their community. On the other hand, the characteristics of marriage that we actually see as foundational have no similar parallels. For example fidelity. If one fails to be capable of fidelity within the marriage, one has no "alternatives." One is either faithful or one isn't. The characteristic of love, while it can be expressed in many ways, cannot be substituted. There is no "proximate expression" (Matzko) of the primary characteristics of marriage as there is the secondary characteristic of procreation.

    One might venture to ask why God created procreation at all if it such an insignificant part of God's intention for the marriage relationship. The answer, as we all know, is to propagate the species. For the solution to the practical problem of where to get more people (just as God did for the animals), God created the capacity for the species to self-propagate. However, the question of whether or not the initial creation of male-female was for the purpose of demonstrating the only normative unions between humans, or whether it was simply a utilitarian act to have a method of producing the human race seems somewhat self-evident. On one hand, the latter proposal is clearly true: God did create them male and female to fill the earth. If God had made "Adam and Steve" rather than Adam and Eve, then there would be no human race, because biological reproduction would have been impossible. However, the first proposal may or may not be true--whether the male-female sexual union is the only sexual union intended by God is a question that we cannot answer definitively, however both biological and theological evidence indicates that it is not. One clue is that while we have been given the capacity for self-propagation, this by no means obligates every creature to self-propagate. If it did, then Paul would be sinning in 1 Cor 7:1 when he encourages us not to marry (therefore denying us the capacity to propagate the species). Somewhere between Genesis 1-2, when God commands Adam and Eve to be fruitful and fill the earth, and 1 Corinthians 7:1 where Paul discourages marriage, either God changed God's mind about wanting more humans wandering around on the earth, or the Genesis 1-2 passage has been mis-applied when it is used to support the idea that humans "should" have children, and that God's intention for marriage is for producing children.

    From a biological perspective, the idea that God clearly created male and female genitalia to be complementary is based on pseudoscience and not on an understanding of human anatomy and sexual physiology. The common argument from traditionalists is twofold: 1) God had one purpose in mind for sex--procreation; and 2) the male-female genital anatomy attests to the complementarity of God's intent for sex as solely for male-female/penile-vaginal sex (see Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice, 2001).

    1. The most obvious argument opposed to the proposition of singular usage is that the penis was clearly designed to serve several purposes: procreation (depositing sperm), pleasure (has nerves associated with pleasure, the pudendal nerve) and for excrement of waste. One of Gagnon's primary claims to the "obviousness" of the misuse of the rectum for sex is that the rectum is a transport for excrement, however he fails to explain the distinction for the penis which clearly has both sex and exremental functions.
    2. Further, the ano-rectal area also appear to be created for uses other than singularly for waste excretement
      1. It may or may not be merely coincidence that this area is the appropriate size and expandibility to accomodate a penis (similar to the vagina). Despite Gagnon's claims, the medical evidence shows that ano-rectal sex does not produce muscule or pathological tissue damage to the area.
      2. Just inside the male rectal canal is the prostate gland, stimulation of which heightens the sexual experience due to innervation with the pudendal nerve, the same nerve that innervates the penis. Stimulation of the ano-rectal area and the prostate gland can alone produce orgasm in the male.
    3. The vagina is obviously designed for multiple purposes--procreation and pleasure (innervation by the pudendal nerve). Contrary to traditionalist theologies and patriarchal cultures (including many cultures that practice female circumcision) that have ignored the sexuality of women as irrelevant, non-existent or evil, the biological fact that the vaginal area is innervated with nerves associated with pleasure, it would seem clear that God intended the vagina to be used not just for men, but primarily for women.
    4. While vaginal penetration is important to many women for sex, current research on the female orgasm is turning away from penetration as the primary stimulant for sexual arousal and satisfaction, to the clitoris, laying on the surface of the vagina, therefore not requiring penetration, indicating that God may have created women (by design) to be able to experience sexual satisfaction outside of penetrative sex.
    5. Most of the authors who oppose the various forms of gay sex based on biological issues fail to address similar types of sexuality between heterosexuals, including married couples. Many actively support oral sex between heterosexuals, quite common among both heterosexuals and homosexuals. Gagnon, for instance, quotes a Rabbinical text allowing for oral sex between heterosexuals (p. 299). Further, many of these authors fail to condemn heterosexual anal sex, which many studies have shown is not an uncommon form of sexual intimacy between heterosexuals. The question then becomes why issues of "nature" and biology can be used to condemn homosexuality based on anatomical issues while not subsequently limiting heterosexual sex to penile-vaginal sex.

    A second point is that while traditional theology has assumed that marrying and having children is the obvious order of nature, this theology is mistaken. While in the Old Testament, we see little discussion of singleness (other than the mention of eunuchs, like Daniel and his cohorts), we have singleness mentioned and encouraged several times in the New Testament. So while in the Old Testament marriage and procreation may or may not be normative and encouraged, they are certainly neither normative, nor encouraged in the New Testament.

    Matthew 19:10-12 (NIV)
    10 The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry." 11 Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. 12 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."

    1 Corinthians 7:1-9 (NIV)
    1 Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

    Here we see both Jesus and Paul discouraging marriage. Paul goes on to express his acceptance of marriage, but not joyfully--he merely tolerates it, as Moses merely tolerated divorce in the Old Testament. Moreover, in Paul's acceptance of marriage, we see absolutely no mention of the procreative aspect of marriage. We see clearly that Paul views marriage as a means for sexual release. As the chapter progresses, as well as in Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 we see other aspects of Paul's view of marriage (concern, respect, love, etc), but in these immediate verses we see primarily Paul's acceptance that marriage is a means to an end: "it is better to marry than to burn with passion." All of Paul's language in this passage points to a very physical, sexual nature of the marriage relationship: the reciprocal fulfilling of "marital duties" by each spouse (v. 3), which is clarified in the following verses, discussing that a wife's body is her husband's, and vice-versa, and that they should not deprive each other other than briefly for prayer. There is no hint that Paul's view of marriage is one of producing children. One certainly cannot presume that Paul condemned procreation, but he apparently didn't believe that humans still retain the duty to "be fruitful and fill the earth," otherwise he could not have discouraged marriage. What Paul does command within the marriage relationship is love (Eph 5:28 and Col 3:19), and similarly Peter commands love and respect within the marriage (1 Peter 3:7).

    Summary of the Teleological Argument

    So far I have discussed the faulty ideas that God's primary intention for marriage/sex was procreation, and that procreation as a goal is propagated in the New Testament, neither of which is true. Rather, the primary characteristics of marriage/sex seem to be a deepening and solidifying of relationship, intimacy, security, faithfulness, fidelity and mutual commitment/consent. All of these things are behaviors which strengthen humans as Imago Dei, and which separate us from most of the rest of creation. Similarly, these are all things which can be expressed in homosexual marriages, while still reflecting the Imago Dei. There is little support for the contention that God created humans primarily to propagate ourselves. Rather, it is clear from Scripture that God created humans to glorify and worship God, and to engage God in relationship. Nor is there support for the contention that God created marriage and sexuality for the primary purpose of bearing children. Rather, both Paul and Song of Solomon indicate that sex was created for human pleasure, and as a method of strengthening the marriage relationship, and that marriage as an institution is still allowed so that we may not "burn with passion" if we are not gifted to celibacy. One of the farces of the anti-gay position, is that while they may not condemn homosexual "feelings" (since just as unmarried and celibate gays have sexual desires for same-gender persons, so do unmarried and celibate heterosexuals continue to have sexual feelings for opposite-gender persons), they still insist on gays living a life of celibacy, when they have provided no justification that having gay attractions are necessarily linked to the gift of celibacy (1 Cor 7:7). Contrary to heterosexuals who are unmarried and not gifted with low sexual desire who have the hope that they will one day marry a woman, those holding the anti-gay position deny that hope to homosexuals, whom God may not have gifted with celibacy. Similarly, those people who hold to the anti-gay position often hold to traditions about sexuality and marriage that they have been taught, yet haven't dug into Scripture to see what the Bible itself has to say about homosexuality, sexuality, and marriage, other than a cursory reading of the English translations. It is this lack of effort which propagates the errant belief that Scripture contains unambiguous, unilateral condemnations of homosexuality, which thereby causes the church to ostracize the very gays that they are intending to "save" thus becoming Sodomites to those gays:
    Ezekiel 16:49 (NIV) 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.

    Addendum 6. Is Gender Separation Part of the Image of God? (argument from Barth's Church Dogmatics
    Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV)
    Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
    Some groups argue, along the lines of Karl Barth, that the theology of imago dei, or "image of God," includes gender. The argument is that in the complementarity of "gender characteristics" inherent in the nature of God (masculine authority, feminine nurturing, etc), humans were similarly built into the likeness of God, and those characteristics were separated into the human genders of male and female. The argument is that it it only in the joining of male and female in marriage and sexuality are men and women completed in this image of God as was created in us. The intimate relationality involved in marriage is analogous to the relationality inherent in the Trinity of God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit). However, there are several assumptions inherent within this theology that are contrary to orthodox beliefs of the church, and border on ancient pagan religious beliefs. I therefore believe that not only is this argument not helpful in the homosexuality discussion, but is actually harmful for the church as a whole.

    First, I'm not confident that complementarity is a good foundation for an imago dei or gender theology, since it hasn't been well received in church tradition. For example, in a recent book by John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, while they are anti-gay, they specifically reject Barth's assertion of imago dei theology as sexual complementarity (in the chapter by Frame). A similar conclusion is affirmed by the Southern Baptist Conference's Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. In Piper and Grudem's book, John Frame lays several good critiques of Barth's position, including a reference to Meredith Kline's grammatical analysis of Gen 1 (from Images of the Spirit), which excludes Barth's interpretation, affirming the historical position on imago dei theology.

    Historically, the church has affirmed the imago dei theology as that of having dominion/stewardship over the earth, as described in Von Rad's classic Old Testament Theology. Part of the problem with making sexual differentiation part of imago dei is that it sacralizes gender and consequently sacralizes sex itself. If God "created" them male and female, the grammar seems to evidence that gender was a new category, therefore not inherent in the nature of God. To impute gender onto God seems to take us back to a type of theology that Moses was trying to get the Israelites away from in having them abhor foreign religions, which had a clear delineation of gender in their Gods (Ishtar, Baal, etc). The distinctive feature of Yahweh isn't that God is "both" genders, but that God transcends gender. Not even that, because the category of gender is irrelevant to the inherent nature of God. To say that God transcends gender is to imply that gender was first a category, then Yahweh rose above it, which is clearly not the case. In humans, God "created" the construct of gender as a means to subdue the earth, in species propagation, which again, is what the grammar of Gen 1 seems to clearly say, and is what the church has historically supported.

    Barth talks about dominion and stewardship in the context of imago dei, but then adds gender also as a factor of imago dei. He makes the following untenable remark, the aftermath of which is the primary source of rejection by the above authors: "What is it that distinguishes him [the male] from the beasts? According to Gen 1 it is the fact that in the case of man the differentiation of sex is the only differentiation." I find it hard to believe that a man like Barth could make such a statement, and harder still that it would be proposed today as as model for imago dei (see the next paragraph below for the ramifications of this doctrine). Barth admits that traditionally the early and later church theology of imago dei involves factors such as ensoulment, rationality, community, etc. Issues such as having life breathed into the nepesh (ensoulment), having the capacity to think, and the need for companionship (which mirrors the internal relationality of the Trinity) all seem like solid models on which to build a theology of imago dei. Barth gives little reason why we should abandon these, and little reasonable arguments for including gender into this theology. His statement itself seems scientifically contradictory since God clearly created animals male and female as well as humans, even though the text doesn't clearly state "and He created the animals male and female." But beyond that, from a broader theological perspective, it simply seems irrational for Barth to claim that the only thing that makes humans imago dei, and animals not imago dei, is the social factors inherent in the male-female marriage/genital relationship. That seems to deny the historical factors such as rationality, ensoulment and community.

    Regarding the sacralization of gender and sexuality in Barth's position, it seems to return us to a pagan position where sexuality brings us closer to God, as was the belief of the followers of Ishtar and her temple prostitutes. Similarly, in the Graeco-Roman tradition, many of Paul's references to pornei in relation to temple worship are most likely to the temples of Cybele and Attis, where they used sexuality as a means of becoming one with their God. As with Ishtar, the idea was that in engaging in sexual worship of thier gods (Cybele and Attis for the Graeco-Romans, and Ba'al and Ashteroth for the Caananites), they are becoming more like their gods by joining the two genders into one, sharing in the gender nature of the other. In the Cybelean cult, gender was transcended by having the male temple prostitutes emasculate themselves and dress/act as women, and act "as women" in the sacred sexual act. Thus, it seems that the Spirit of Moses' invectives to abhor Canaanite practices would include the sacralization of gender and sex, since Yahweh is neither gendered nor sexual (genital), as the pagan gods clearly were (according to ancient mythology, the pagan gods would commonly have sex with humans, and with other gods).

    From a contemporary social perspective, Barth's position seems to deny our wholeness as individuals before God. Certainly there is an aspect of incompleteness, both spiritually and socially, inherent in humans. But Barth's position seems to lead to the conclusion that one cannot be truly whole unless one is married. This seems to contradict what Paul and Jesus teach us in the NT (see Appendix 5 above), that God prefers us to be celibate rather than married. They certainly don't prohibit marriage, but Paul clearly discourages it (unless one can't keep from burning with passion), and Jesus clearly states that celibacy for God is preferable to marriage. For Barth to claim (this argument is found in 3.4.54) that God intended humans to only reach wholeness in marriage seems to be very much against the clear teachings of Paul and Jesus, and very insulting to those Christians who are single, whether by choice, by providence, or any other reasons why Christians are relationally alone.

    Addendum 7: Pais in Matthew 8:6 and Luke 7:7--Did Jesus Implicitly Affirm a Gay Relationship?

    In Matthew 8 and Luke 7 we find a parallel account of a Roman Centurion (the military leader of 100 Roman soldiers) who comes to Jesus to ask him to heal his "servant". In the Greek this word is given as both pais and doulos. Jesus says he will come to the man's house, but the Centurion says he is not worthy to have Jesus enter his house. Jesus replies that this man's faith is greater than anyone he has found in Israel and that the servant will be healed this very hour.

    The Greek word doulos is normally translated as servant. There is little contestation on this issue. However, the word pais presents a little more difficulty in this context. Pais can or servant/slave be translated as son, child (Perseus Project citation for pais). An alternate translation is the younger male partner in a homosexual relationship (Mader, 1992; Miner and Connoley, 2002). This younger person would not have to be a boy as in a young child in a pederastic relationship, but would most likely be an adolescent up to his late twenties. From a strictly linguistic standpoint, there is no basis to determine which of these meanings applies to these two passages.

    However, if you place the passage in its context and look at it more holistically, I believe it is fairly clear that it was a gay relationship and Jesus had to know that. My primary rationale is that if you look at the Roman-Jewish relationship of that era, there was great antagonism between these two groups. The Jewish region was being occupied by the Romans and the Romans weren't "friends" to the Jews, but an oppressive force that had taken over Jewish lands. This case is somewhat unique because in the Luke passage we see that this Centurion is respected by the Jewish leaders for his work in their community, so much so that they advocated for Jesus to heal the servant.

    Jesus does so freely and does not make any comments about the unusual nature of the relationship between the Centurion and his servant. Nor do the Jewish leaders seem to have any reservations about bringing this matter to Jesus. Especially this latter fact would lead me to believe that there was no homosexual context to this relationship. However, the fact remains that there was a great bond between this Centurion and his servant for him to "pull favors" to get this travelling Jewish rabbi to heal his servant. I believe this is clearly indicative of some type of relationship much stronger than a normal master-servant relationship, but I also do not believe one can conclude much else about the nature of that relationship from these passages. The Mader article mentioned above makes, to me, an inadequate case that the linguistic evidence would lead one to favor an homosexual interpretation of these passages. The cultural evidence I believe is somewhat stronger, but also not compelling, since one can make the case for a non-sexual relationship. Despite this, however, the passage does not exclude the possibility of an homosexual relationship between the two and there are hints at an homosexual interpretation might be present.

    Concise Bibliography of Sources Quoted:
    Boswell, John. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1980.
    Boswell, John. Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe. Vintage Books: New York, 1994.
    Brooten, Bernadette. "Patristic Interpretations of Romans 1:26." Studia Patristica 18: 287-291. Ed. Elizabeth Livingstone, Cistercian Publishing: Kalamazoo, 1985.
    Brooten, Bernadette. Love Between Women. University of Chicago Press: Chicago, 1996.
    Dover, Kenneth. Greek Homosexuality. Harvard University Press: 1989.
    Eliade, Mircea. Homosexuality. The Encyclopedia of Religion volume 6. Macmillan Publishing: New York.
    Greenberg, David. The Construction of Homosexuality. University of Chicago Press: London, 1988.
    Mader, Donald. "The entimos pais of Matthew 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10". In Homomsexuality and Religion and Philosophy by W Dynes, Garland Publishing: NY, 1992. Martin, Dale. Arsenokoites and malakos: Meanings and Consequences. Biblical Ethics and Homosexuality, Robert Brawley. Westminster Press: Louisville, 1996.
    Martin, Dale. Heterosexism and the interpretation of Romans 1:18-32. Biblical Interpretation 3 (1995): 332-55.
    Mickey, Paul. Of Sacred Worth. Abingdon Press: Nashville, 1991.
    Miller, James. The practices of Romans 1:26: Homosexual or heterosexual. Novum Testamentum 37 (1995): 1-11.
    Miner, Jeff and Tyler Connoley. The Children Are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationships. Indianapolis: Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, 2002.
    Petersen, William. On the study of homosexuality in Patristic sources. Studia Patristica 20 (1989): 283-88.
    Scroggs, Robin. The New Testament and Homosexuality. Fortress Press: Philadelphia, 1983.
    Smith, Mark. Ancient Bisexuality and the interpretation of Romans 1:26-27. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 63(1996): 223-256.
    Wright, David. Homosexuals or prostitutes? Vigiliae Christianae 38 (1984): 125-153.

    Complete Bibliography

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    Jeramy Townsley;