For many years some people on the fringes of Christianity have circulated the religious cartoons of ‘The Naked Pastor’, David Hayward. The cartoons often depict Jesus disagreeing with the inclinations of the modern church, promote “deconstructing faith” are cynical towards the church and portray homosexuals feeling rejected by the church but embraced by Jesus. Sometimes the cartoons convey some insightful truth, but at other times the cartoons are heretical. Many Christians have exclaimed doubt about whether this cartoonist knows the Bible much at all. But in mid May 2021, he released a cartoon which revealed the cartoonist has little regard for the Bible. He suggests that God the father, and God the son don’t either …
“We don’t discriminate” said my manager. We were hiring a new employee, and my manager was advising me on how we should choose who to hire. One of the candidates spoke French as his first language and his English was usually understandable, but was clearly flawed. I had reservations about that making communication difficult.
Okay apparently the company doesn’t discriminate based on English fluency. But my manager’s rebuke was broader than that. His wording implied that the company doesn’t discriminate at all. And that’s how these things are often portrayed isn’t it? That people with good values don’t discriminate at all. Yet here we were choosing what parameters would be suitable for choosing a new employee; not living too far away, not too under-educated, not too expensive. IE we were deciding how we would discriminate!
There is an urban myth widely circulating today, that isn’t actually spoken but that implies that good people don’t discriminate. But everyone discriminates. It’s just that certain discrimination (EG race-based) dominates the news while other forms dont get a mention.
I found the following to be a good illustration of this, from 2015 –
And this –
This is a review of a soft copy of the book, which was copyrighted in 2020, and is 164 pages long.
Like many similar books, Id expected that it would provide detailed reasoning why the author believes the ‘clobber’ passages in the Bible dont mean what the Church generally claims they mean, and I expected that he would offer a detailed explanation what he thinks the authors of the clobber passages really meant. Isnt that what you would expect from such a title? But I was mistaken. Rather, this book is all just about why the author believes gay relationships are natural and not immoral and why the church should affirm them. At one point he even advises his readers “Don’t argue or debate the meaning of the verses. They won’t hear you anyway.” (P. 123).
He writes of people including himself who try to be straight, and even enter a heterosexual marriage (and yes he tried hard), but are miserable until they embrace their homosexuality. In a secular world, it’s a good argument, to be honest. But he seems to feel that if Christians perceive gay as good, then they will ignore the clobber passages. And that’s a problem, because for evangelicals, following Jesus means believing the Bible.
The author claims to be retired, and a former pastor and seminary professor (p. 35) who is “almost obsessed” with religion (p. 109). So it’s odd that his theology seems rather poor. Although he does disclose that we find he was ordained in the Metropolitan Community Church (p. 83), which perhaps explains it. Examples of poor theology include his claim that people “also forgot that the Bible also condemns eating bacon (or pork in general) …” (p. 28) despite Jesus saying that Christians can eat anything (Mark 7:19).
He seems to be a fairly liberal Christian. His translation of Psalm 1 translates it away from holiness and towards an encouragement to be a generally good person (p. 107).
His reasoning seems to be built in part on false assumptions, and there are several of those he states –
- “Unfortunately, those who would use the clobber passages, read, and understand them in English. They forgot that the original authors didn’t write or speak in English. They forgot that the verses were written thousands of years ago in either Hebrew or Greek and that over the centuries they were translated into hundreds of languages by men who had their own ideas about what each word meant.” (p. 28)
- “They forgot that these passages make no reference to or show no understanding of homosexual relationships between two free, adult, and loving individuals.” (p. 28)
- “They even forgot to consider seriously what those Hebrew and Greek verses meant in ancient times to ancient peoples.” (p. 28)
Some of his reasoning seems flawed or one-sided. EG when writing of conversion therapy, he claims that – “42 percent of LGBTQ+ youth who underwent conversion therapy reported a suicide attempt in the past year. 57 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth who have undergone conversion therapy reported a suicide attempt in the last year.” But he doesnt mention that many of those who undertake conversion therapy, are suicidal before they started. And he should know more than most, given that he says he underwent it voluntarily as an adult. On pp 47-48 he lists 25 LGBTQ people who were killed or killed themselves, supposedly because of the clobber passages. But the list includes well known LGBTQ deaths which are well known to be about more than anti-gay sentiment, including Tyler Clementi who killed himself shortly after a room mate secretly filmed him and shared the footage with fellow students, Matthew Shepard who had previous sexual encounters with one of his two killers and all of whom were involved in drugs, and Bobby Griffith, who according to a later film about him, suicided after a romantic relationship ended.
Part 3 of the book is titled “undermining the clobber passages”, a title which is largely reflective of the book overall.
In 2021, there was an increase in circulation of a left wing conspiracy theory that claims that modern Bible references to homosexuality were in the original languages actually references to pedophilia.
Is that theory valid? No, says Michael Brown –
No, says James White –
No, say others –
The Bible and Homosexuality by Mona West, can be found here: https://www.mccchurch.org/files/2016/08/BibleandHomosexuality.pdf
In the second paragraph, the reader is told that “Only a small number of passages in the entire Bible reference same-sex sexual activity (six out of sixty-six books of the entire Bible). Obviously this topic was not of great concern to the biblical writers.” Not of great concern? Of the 6 references, one is in Leviticus, which refers to sex between men as ‘abomination’ or ‘detestable’ (18:22) and worthy of the death penalty (20:13). Another of the 6 references is in 1 Corinthians 6, where a list of sins is provided which prevent the sinner from joining those who “will inherit the kingdom of God” (6:9). Another is 1 Timothy, which refers to practising homosexuality as something that is “contrary to the sound doctrine” (1:10). How can those references be understood to not express great concern?
In the 3rd paragraph, the reader is told that “The word ‘homosexuality’ is a modern term and did not exist during biblical times.” And while it’s true the word ‘homosexuality’ is a modern word that has only existed for a few centuries, there are older words and terms with very similar meanings. Before the word ‘homosexuality’ was common, terms such as “sexual inversion” were in use, and different words and terms before that. The original languages of the Bible used the word ‘arsenokoites‘ which is widely regarded to mean sex between men.
The author states “Biblical writers had no concept of sexual orientation or sexual development as we understand those today.” But it’s hard to deny that chapter 1 of the book of Romans refers to men with a propensity to lust after and engage in sex with other men. That’s sexual orientation. That’s homosexuality.
Later the author writes “[in the ancient Mediterranean world] … sexual acts between men did happen, but they happened in order to show dominance of one group of men or a man over another, especially during times of war. It was not uncommon for men who had conquered a foreign army to rape them in order to show they were dominant and of a higher status.” And sure, I bet that happened at times. But that wouldnt be true of all sex between men at the time. How do we know? Because Romans 1 talks of men lusting after each other and committing “shameless acts” with each other. That’s not a reference to dispassionate non-erotic sexual dominance. It’s a reference to homo-eroticism. It’s not only Romans 1 that offers this contradictory picture. Other sources such as Symposium also paint a picture of tender, caring sexual interest between males.
The article then discusses specific Bible stories one by one. Firstly the Genesis 19 story of Sodom and Gomorrah. Mona West claims that “This story is not a condemnation of homosexuality, but is a story about rape and inhospitality.” Mona West seems oblivious to the fact that the central person in the story, Lot, offers his own daughters to be raped, to avoid the attempted rape of males (19:8). Sounds to me like homosexuality is quite likely a theme there. West persists though, writing “In other biblical texts (Ezekiel 16:49, Luke 17:28-29) Sodom’s ‘sin’ is not identified as homosexuality, rather, their sins were pride, failure to help the poor, and lack of hospitality to foreigners.” And West is right that the town of Sodom was judged for multiple and various sins. But West is also selective in what she quotes. She cites Ezekiel 16:49, but not verse 50, which is quite possibly a vague reference to sexual sin. And she doesnt cite Jude 7 which says “Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.”
Mona West then moves on to Leviticus, citing 18:22 and 20:13, and then claiming that “These verses in no way prohibit, nor do they
even speak, to loving, caring sexual relationships between people of the same gender.” The problem with this of course, is that her claim lacks substantiation. And consider 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman”. Isnt that wording basically an analogy; comparing a homosexual sex act, with a heterosexual sex act? And arent analogies based in similarity? If that’s the case, then if the verse is about non-loving sex between men, doesnt that imply that it’s also about non-loving heterosexual sex? That seems crazy. Surely most heterosexual sex at the time, was loving? And if it was, and this verse is basically an analogy, then the verse also covers homosexual sex that’s loving.
The Apostle Paul
Mona West’s argument at this point is unusual and odd even for a gay Christian apologist. She rightly states that at the time when the New Testament was written, pederasty (relationships between adolescents and adult males, including sex between them) was somewhat common. Mona writes “Evidently there was some abuse happening in these relationships and young boys were being exploited and kept by the patron well after the boy had grown into adulthood (which would have made him an equal, hence violating the code of sex only among unequals). These abusive relationships are what the apostle Paul is referencing, not mutually loving and caring relationships between people of the same sex.” So was Paul opposing pederasty specifically rather than homosexual practise in general? Probably not, since in Romans 1, he writes negatively of “the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another”. IE he seems to oppose homosexual practise. So was Paul okay with pederasty, but simply opposing cases of pederasty when it’s more abusive than average? Well there is nothing in his wording to imply that. But here is what is most odd; is Mona West saying that what Paul was primarily opposing is pederastic relationships that continue beyond adolescence for the younger male? Is Mona West saying that Paul was okay with pederasty, but not okay with gay relationships between equals? When Mona West examines Romans 1, she is again distracted by notions of dominance and submission, and seeks to read those notions into the text. But Romans 1 seems to not reference those notions. Rather, as noted above, the relevant concern seems to be heterosexual verses homosexual, IE “the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another”.
I have five male acquaintances who have spoken of being sexually assaulted. I have zero female acquaintances of whom Ive heard they have been sexually assaulted. I never expected this gender-based disparity to be the case, and it still surprises me. The first time a male friend of mine spoke of being raped, it all sounded kinda unlikely. But it happens (EG 2, EG 3, EG 4 , https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/qv3gam/what-its-like-to-speak-out-as-a-male-rape-victim?utm_campaign=sharebutton). In fact if you do the sums based on statistics in this article, which claims that around 40% of sexual assaults are against males, and that around half of those are perpetrated by males, then male on male sexual assault would constitute around 20% of all sexual assaults.
In most of the cases where one of my friends has been sexually assaulted, both the victim and perpetrator would be classified as MSM and were either in a relationship with each other, on a date with each other, or were “hooking up” with each other. In all cases the victims were traumatised. In at least one case it finished with a hospital visit for bodily damage – and I dont mean from infection. Sometimes male sexual assault sounds a bit “Sodom & Gomorrah”. Like this recent example – http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/10/16/police-teen-seriously-injured-in-videotaped-sexual-assault/17386597/ Some news outlets referred to the above case as a “group rape”, which of course sounds more stark than “assault”, and may be a very valid reference for it.
Arsenokoites is an ancient Greek term found several times in the Bible and often translated as a reference to homosexual practise.
In 2019 an article that focuses on this word, began circulating, and has continued to circulate.
I believe the following response on Facebook is more scholarly than the original article –
Efforts and therapies that seek to change a person’s sexual orientation are increasingly regarded as ineffective. And not just in terms of heterosexual verses homosexual. Efforts to change a pedophile orientation are apparently likewise generally ineffective.
And now I see similar thoughts about treatment for sexual addiction …
The gay community in the western world had a reasonably strong print media presence around the start of the century, including glossy magazines, and newspapers. Gay Star News, SX, The Advocate; they were numerous.
But in the short years following the legalisation of gay marriage, much of that media presence has crumbled, from the UK, to Australia to the USA.
Why? My theory is that it’s because ‘gay’ has gone largely mainstream, and gay people no longer feel a need to subscribe to specifically gay publications.