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					Sexuality, Society and Scripture
Exploring Biblical Views of Homosexuality, Same-Sex Relations, and Sin

April 11, 2010

Ken Daigle
Reading Leviticus

           In the Book of Leviticus it states: If a man lies with a male as with a woman,

both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their

blood is upon them.1 I believe this statement is clear and there is no need for

investigation, hermeneutical study, historical-critical analysis, or interpretation. No

matter what translation you use, Leviticus clearly states that for two men to have

sexual relations is an abomination, sinful. Thanks to Leviticus, we also know that

men were having same sex relations in biblical Israel; otherwise there would be no

need for this law.

           The debate about what we now label homosexuality continues in our society,

and in this discourse scripture is often invoked. When it is, scripture is usually used

to condemn specific behaviors and justify public policies and exclusions. The people

of faith who make these arguments usually claim the Bible is “inerrant” or without

error. In response, a whole industry of writing, study, publication and activism has

sprung up that looks at, investigates, and tries to counter the conservative

arguments. In this paper I will attempt to examine this battle ground, offer my own

rhetoric and hopefully some insight.

Use of Rhetoric

           In all of the discourse we will examine here, I will do my best to describe

other’s positions and statements as objectively as I can, but at the same time I

want to acknowledge that all of the writings I have examined and my own have

been constructed in ways to establish, make and to influence arguments. Therefore,

    Oxford University Press, The Bible, NSRV (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), Leviticus 20:13.

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before proceeding any further, I begin with this; Webster’s dictionary defines

rhetoric as the art of speaking or writing effectively, and as the study of writing or

speaking as a means of communication or persuasion.2 I would suggest that we

should look at all Bible analysis and declarations of interpretation as rhetoric, for

each scholar, clergyman, or congregant is writing or speaking to persuade. The

process of interpretation itself can be an internal and revelatory process, but once

any attempt is made to articulate those interpretations, rhetoric must be employed.

Dale Martin speaks of rhetoric this way;

        “Rhetoric refers to the use of language to persuade. Any linguistic statement,
        no matter what its original speaker intended, can be analyzed as an “attempt
        to persuade.”3

        While we can describe before we prescribe, it is my observation that our

descriptions are usually slanted to gain us rhetorical advantage. So as we embark

on this rhetorical journey, I wanted to acknowledge my prejudice up front. As Ken

Stone, professor of Bible, culture and hermeneutics at Chicago Theological Institute

wrote, “To accept an invitation to speak about the Bible and homosexuality is

always to embark upon a rhetorical enterprise.”4

        In the same vein, I would also suggest that the term rhetoric also applies to

the writings of the Bible. While certain groups or denominations may disagree with

this statement I believe the scholarly evidence is clear that each of the Bible

authors was setting out to influence opinion to their specific point of view. As James

Barr puts it, the Bible is not “the mouthpiece for a standard orthodoxy,” but is

2 accessed 12/8/2009
  Dale Martin, Sex and the Single Savior (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), 18.
  Miguel De La Torre, Out of the Shadow into the Light (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2009), 20.

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“more like a battlefield, in which different traditions strive against one another.”

Stone observes, that when he listens to people speak of the Bible and

homosexuality today, he often hears them speaking as if they wished everyone

would agree on one interpretation and the one thing the Bible really “says”. But the

Bible has never been about agreement, and even as it was being written, it was

about differing opinions. Bible scholar Richard Friedman points out that one of the

writers of the Torah, the P or Priestly writer, (the writer of Leviticus) fashioned his

work as an alternative to the already existing texts that he vehemently disagreed

with. “The story has an ironic finish. This writer had produced his work deliberately

as an alternative to the JE work. And then someone combined them!”6 The Bible

from its inception was written from different points of view and is filled with

differing opinions and debate, often sitting side by side on the same page.

What the Bible Really Says

        Dr. Daniel Helminiak is a Catholic priest and the author of what is one of the

most widely read books on the subject of homosexuality and the Bible, What that

Bible Really Say’s About Homosexuality. His book includes a forward by Unity friend

and one of my favorite theologians, Bishop Spong, he writes;

        In my priestly and episcopal career I have watched the literal Bible be quoted
        to justify racial segregation, to insure the continued sexist oppression of
        women by the Christian church, and to perpetuate a killing homophobia in
        our corporate life.7

In his book, Dr. Helminiak, starts with an explanation of Bible interpretation. He

suggests, there is no reading anything without interpreting it; otherwise it is just

  Barr, The Bible as a Document of Believing Communities (Chicago: Scholars Press, 1981), 28.
  Elliott Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible (New York: Harper One, 1997), 216.
  Daniel Helminiak, What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality (Tajique: Alamo Square Press), 11.

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words on a page. To pick up any writing and read it requires you to interpret it. And

words don’t always mean what they say. He uses the analogy of the term “out in

left field” which in our vernacular can mean someone out of contact, disconnected

from reality, or unconventional. Yet if someone knew nothing of baseball, or if for

some reason, future generations lost all knowledge of baseball they would

understand this to mean the person was in a field to the left.

            In this chapter he focuses on two different approaches to interpreting the

Bible: the “literal reading” and the “historical-critical reading.” Helminiak’s definition

of literal reading is,

            Literal reading claims to take the text simply for what it says. This is the
            approach of Bible Fundamentalism. It claims not to be interpreting the text
            but merely to be reading it as it stands. Clearly however even
            Fundamentalism follows a rule of interpretation, a simple and easy rule. The
            rule is that a text means whatever it means to somebody reading it today.8

His definition of historical critical,

            The rule here is that the text means whatever it meant to the people who
            wrote it long ago. To say what a biblical text teaches us today, you first have
            to understand the text in its original situation and then apply the meaning to
            the present situation. 9

            He postulates that while on television and in the press we mainly hear the

Fundamentalist point of view, and discussion around literal interpretation, most

mainline churches use the historical critical approach. The historical-critical

approach has almost two centuries of research behind it; therefore, the literalist

approach has actually risen in opposition to it. While more commonly used the

historical critical method also requires much more effort and study, conclusions and

    Ibid., 33.

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consensus may not be easy to achieve and in some cases may raise serious

questions about religion and society. He states, “The new historical input can leave

the older understanding dissolving before our eyes It is important to appreciate the

delicateness of this matter of biblical interpretation.”10

            Helminiak states there is one area of agreement in these two differing

approaches to interpretation, and that is around the inspiration and the inerrancy of

the Bible. Therefore no one can dismiss the historical-critical approach insisting that

it does not honor the Bible or the word of God. He claims that adherents to the

literal and historical-critical methods both explain the process of inspiration and

inerrancy differently. Literalist explain inspiration to mean that God’s power

overwhelmed the human authors and the words just flowed through them,

sometimes without them even realizing what they were writing. And the historical

critical understanding is that what the human authors wrote may have meaning

which they themselves were not aware of. For example, a literal reading of Genesis

is that the earth was formed in one week, and in a historical-critical analysis first

asks, “What is the point of the story?” Even if science states that the earth formed

over millions and millions of years there is no conflict because God built the world

with wisdom, care, and order. The fact that God created the world remains as true

as ever, and there is no error in the teaching of Genesis.

            This is no subtle distinction, to clearly state Dr. Helminiak’s position; I have

included his summary of this section of his book,

            Both the literal approach and the historical-critical approach hold that the
            Bible is God’s word, inspired and inerrant. There is no disagreement here.
            But these two approaches do disagree on what is exactly God’s word in the
            Bible. For God’s “word” is not the marking on the page nor even the string of
            words in the sentences. Rather, God’s word is the meaning of the words and
     Ibid., 34.

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            sentences formed by the markings on the page. Disagreeing on how to
            determine what the Bible means, the two approaches disagree on what
            God’s inspired and inerrant word is. They disagree about what the Bible
            teaches because they interpret the Bible differently.11

            While there are many points on which I do agree with Dr. Helminiak—and

we will touch on some of those later—but on the subject of the inerrant word of

God in historical-critical interpretation I cannot concur with his theory. I believe he

stakes out the rhetorical position of historical-critical interpretation upholding the

inerrant word of God, to more fully engage the Fundamentalist detractors. But in

practice he does not hold to his own theory, for in the remainder of the book he

looks at bible passages and refutes their relevance in biblical times and today’s

society. For example, in 1 Corinthians and in 1 Timothy Paul mentions various

sinners, Helminiak states that “scholars are pretty well agreed that those lists are

not Paul’s own…. It appears that Paul just borrowed a stock list of supposed vices

from the culture at large…rhetorically piling up a heap of vices to overwhelm his

readers.”12 Helminiak seems to be stating that the references to homosexuality

contained in these lists, as well as the lists of sins themselves are unimportant

because they were just a rhetorical device. But how can they be the word of God,

or even contain an underlying truth to the inerrant word of God, if they are

unimportant and “borrowed” from some other list. By Helminiak’s own definition of

historical-critical interpretation, we must look for the author’s original intent. To

then say that the original intent was borrowed from society or another source

deflects the investigation of the original intent as well as the integrity of the

interpretation. I see many problems with both Helminiak’s definitions of literal and

     Ibid., 36.
     Ibid., 112.

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historical-critical interpretation and in his suggestion that historical-critical

maintains the inerrancy of the Bible.

       To me, a more logical approach to historical-critical would be that after

historical study and investigation of the original intent and meaning of the authors

the critical analysis must also include the possibility that the writer was expressing

an opinion filtered through his own human experience, and therefore may or may

not be the inerrant word of God. If we do not allow for the possibility of the human

factor, how do we explain the hundreds and hundreds of contradictory statements

in the Bible and how do we account for the broad range of concepts and ideas, such

as from “an eye for an eye” to “turn the other cheek?” If they are both the inerrant

word of God—no matter how you interpret them—how do you reconcile them in

today’s society?

       I submit that in practice neither the Bible literalists nor the historical-critical

interpreters that Dr. Helminiak describes really practice the inerrancy of the Bible.

They speak it and pronounce it, but in reality bible inerrancy is impossible to

defend. For example there are laws in Leviticus call for “stoning to death” for both

heterosexuals caught in the act of adultery. Dr. Helminiak’s Church is a staunch

opponent of capital punishment and most literalists do not insist upon death as the

punishment for adultery. Yet many of these same groups insist on Bible inerrancy

when the section of the Bible they quote fits their personal belief systems.

       This idea is articulated as “Everyday Theology” in a concept conceived by the

sociologist of religion Dawne Moon. In her book, God, Sex and Politics, Moon

studies the beliefs of congregants from two United Methodist Churches. She found

that the theology of the individual church member was often different from the

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member in the next pew, and sometimes vastly different than the teachings of the

church. Moon states that “Everyday Theologies” should not be confused with

systematic or philosophical accounts. Because they are based on complex

interactions worked out with experience and practice in a way that allows believers

to order their world. Then the believers interpret scripture in the light of beliefs that

they already hold and to naturalize their concepts of God and God’s will. While

essentially describing the interpretative process the same as Helminiak, she

classifies interpretation in terms of “literal” and “contextual” and she states,

“anyone who uses Scripture as a Guide for life uses both literal and contextual

readings to some extent. The difference, in fact, seems to come from the

experiences that shape the members’ everyday theologies.”13

           Some theologians go as far as to argue with Dr. Helminiak’s title,(What the

Bible Really Says About Homosexuality) and accuse him of confusing active subject

and object. They state the bible does not “say” anything, but the reader or

interpreter of the Bible does. Ken Stone, a professor of Bible, Culture and

Hermeneutics at Chicago Theological Institute, points out that in the context of the

debates over homosexuality, that just offering a alternative interpretation of a

biblical text will do little or nothing to change options. Because the beliefs do not

originate with the Bible, but in fact are based on the larger societal norms that

construct our “Everyday Theologies.”

           Stone points out that in relation to many other topics, including marriage;

the Bible has little to say on the subject of homosexuality. He notes the lack of

proportion in the debate itself stating;

     Dawne Moon, God, Sex and Politics (London: The University of Chicago Press, 2004), 58.

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        “The weight given to homosexuality among Christians today is arguably
        disproportionate both to the infrequent appearance of references to
        homosexuality in the texts themselves, and to the more frequent appearance
        of references to other matters about which Christians today seem less

And while this fact alone, does not lead to any conclusions about the morality or

acceptability of self affirming, gay men, lesbians and bisexuals in the church. It

does indicate that the amount of attention it is receiving in our current cultural and

political debates come from our already held beliefs and not from biblical sources.

        Stone also makes the point that as we enter the debate on homosexuality

and the Bible we enter the world of the Bible itself and in exploring the Bible; we

are sometimes shocked by the people who inhabited that ancient world. He points

out, the texts of Leviticus, Genesis and Judges which prohibit men lying with a

man, and describes fathers offering their daughters to be raped in order to prevent

the rape of their male guests, were written in a social context. He states;

        “My main goals in a forum are to underscore the fact that the texts were
        written in a social context characterized by assumptions concerning gender,
        power, hierarchy and penetration; and to emphasize that these notions of
        gender (which generally included male horror over being treated like women)
        seem to have shaped the negative perspective adopted by a few biblical texts
        toward homosexuality.”15

Meaning of Sodomite

        One of the first stories we come across and we enter the world of the Bible

and search for its views on homosexuality is the story of Sodom. Perhaps more

than any one story in the bible the story of Sodom has come to be associated with

the Bible’s condemnation of homosexuality. In fact the terms, Sodomy, and

Sodomize— while technically can mean anal or oral sex, between any two people—

  De La Torre, 25.
 Ibid, 37.

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have crossed into the vernacular as meaning pervert or homosexual. Let’s take a

look at the story from Genesis:

           The two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the
           gateway of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and bowed
           down with his face to the ground. He said, ‘Please, my lords, turn aside to
           your servant’s house and spend the night, and wash your feet; then you can
           rise early and go on your way.’ They said, ‘No; we will spend the night in the
           square.’ But he urged them strongly; so they turned aside to him and
           entered his house; and he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread,
           and they ate. But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of
           Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the
           house; and they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight?
           Bring them out to us, so that we may know them.’ Lot went out of the door
           to the men, shut the door after him, and said, ‘I beg you, my brothers, do
           not act so wickedly. Look, I have two daughters who have not known a man;
           let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please; only do nothing
           to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.’ But they
           replied, ‘Stand back!’ And they said, ‘This fellow came here as an alien, and
           he would play the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.’
           Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and came near the door to
           break it down. But the men inside reached out their hands and brought Lot
           into the house with them, and shut the door. And they struck with blindness
           the men who were at the door of the house, both small and great, so that
           they were unable to find the door.16

           Many scholars agree that this story is not about two men choosing to have

sexual relations but really about male hierarchy and the rape of aliens. Lot was also

an alien to Sodom, and the townspeople were suspicious of his outsider status. It is

shocking to the modern reader that Lot would so readily offer his virgin daughters

to be raped instead, apparently unconcerned as he was for their welfare. Women

in biblical time’s—daughters, wives, concubines and slaves—were all considered the

property of the male head of the household; he was free to do with them as he

wished. Several male scholars I read, pointed out that turning over his daughters to

this angry mob, would have been a financial hardship for Lot given his daughters

     Oxford University Press, Genesis 19: 1-11

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would then not be suitable for marriage. Not one scholar mentioned the horror that

the daughters themselves would be subjected to; evidence that male hierarchical

prejudice continues to this day, at least among Bible scholars.

          Judges 19 tells a parallel story to that of Sodom, the wanton people of the

town of ‘Gibeah, surround a household that has where the man has taken in a

stranger. They demand of the man that he produce the stranger, so they may have

intercourse with him. The man begs them not to do such a vile thing and instead

offers the men his virgin daughter and his concubine, but they refuse and “pound

on the door.” The man then grabs his concubine and pushes her out the door. The

men of the town take turns raping and abusing her all night and in the morning she

is found on the man’s doorstep dead. In punishment the tribes of Israel collected

an army and destroyed Gibeah. In the destruction of Sodom by God and Gibeah by

Israel, the crimes in question are rape, hostility, egregious inhospitality and

unbelievable inhumanity; they have nothing to do with same sex behavior or

homosexuality as we understand it and discuss it today.

          In fact, Jesus, as revealed by the Gospel writers, is completely silent on the

topic of same sex behavior, but he does mention the sin of Sodom. In Matthew 5,

he is instructing his disciples to travel from town to town preaching. He tells them

to travel without money or provision and to find hospitality with some worthy

person of the town and he states, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your

words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly I

tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of

judgment than for that town.”17 We know this story is from the Q Gospel and is

     Ibid.,Matthew 10:15

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retold to us by the author of Matthew, in it, Jesus clearly states that the Sin of

Sodom, as the rejection of people doing the work of God, and inhospitality, not


       Our modern concept of sexuality and homosexuality is really quite new,

human sexuality has only been studied for a little over a hundred years and the

understanding of a separate class of individuals, know as homosexuals and

characterized by their sexual orientation is something unknown to the Biblical

world. Yet, some argue that Leviticus and Romans are clear in their condemnation

of male same sex activity. They however do not make the same blanket

condemnation of women’s same sex behavior; In fact neither text even explicitly

mentions it. And in our modern discourse I often hear religious groups state, “Hate

the sin, love the sinner.” I would question exactly what their concept of the sin is.

To my reading, Leviticus clearly calls male penetrative sex, an abomination, but

makes no mention of other forms of sensuality or sexuality, that our modern

culture equates with sexual relations.

       Taking my point even further, I have a good friend that was involved in a

diving accident several years ago. That accident left him a quadriplegic, he has no

feeling from the neck down, no genital sensation and he cannot achieve erection or

orgasm. His sexual orientation and inclination remain homosexual, he is attracted

to other men, and his erotic fantasies are of male to male sexual relations. He is

incapable of having sex, or lying with a man as described in the Bible, but as we

would classify it, his orientation and his nature remain homosexual. Is that still a

sin in the Leviticus model, or in the model of, hate the sin and love the sinner?

Modern psychology understanding of sexual orientation is much more than sexual

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behavior, a concept that, Leviticus, bible literalists, and those who look to scripture

as a “foundation” for personal ethics ignore.

Variation in Translation

`          In 1 Corinthians and in 1Timothy there are two texts that have something to

do with male same sex interaction, the ancient words in Greek are obscure and

there is considerable debate among scholars as to the proper translation of each

word. The words in Greek are malakoi and arsenokoitai. Helminiak writes,

           In both texts those words occur in list of sinners of various kinds. It is hard
           to determine what any works in a list mean because the words have no
           context to help suggest a meaning. All that can be determined in the present
           case is that the words refer to something evil. But to what?18

In 1952 the Revised standard version of the Bible translated the two words

together as homosexuals, the 1977 version translates the two words as sexual

perverts, and the 1989 New Revised Standard Version translates the words

separately as male prostitutes, and sodomites Various modern versions translate

those two words quite differently, arsenokoitai is translated as homosexuals,

sodomites, child molesters, perverts, homosexual perverts, sexual perverts, or

people of infamous habits. Malakoi is translated as catamites, the effeminate, boy

prostitutes and even sissies. Roman Catholic Scholars in the 20th century translated

malakoi as masturbators, and recently translated arsenokoitai as practicing

homosexual. When they were inundated with complaints from gay rights groups,

they switched the translation to sodomites.

     Helminiak, 105

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       As we have already discussed there was no biblical concept of homosexuality,

and to try and understand the meaning of these words all the translators seem to

be bringing their own agendas, understandings, “everyday theologies” and

prejudices to the work. For how is it that being a “effeminate” fits into a listing of

sinners that includes, murderers, and slave traders? In these translations the term

sodomite is used to mean homosexual, yet as we have already shown the sin of

Sodom was not homosexuality, but the error keeps being reinforced.

Issues of Penetration

       In our society there seem to be generalized fear around gender hierarchy

and gender confusion (especially in some men). Those fears have been articulated

in several high profile court cases involving defendants accused of attacking or

killing gay men as “the gay panic” defense. The theory is, that these defendants

were so traumatized by the sexual proposition of a gay man that they were

rendered psychologically not responsible for their violent behavior.    While I am

glad to report that in most cases this defense no longer works, it does illustrate a

broader societal attitude, of male power and of sexual insecurity.

             In the now famous case of Abner Louima, a young black man was taken

into a restroom by several New York City police officers, the officers held down Mr.

Louima while a fellow officer took a broken broom stick and rammed it into Mr.

Louima’s rectum. (I choose not to use the term sodomize, here to stop reinforcing

the cultural bias) This act was not about sex and the officers and Mr. Louima were

not homosexual. This act of penetration was about racism, power and control.

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                 In his book, Dr. Helminiak talks about the historical meaning of male

anal sex and of social norms. He proposes that the early Christian church leaders’

position on male-male sex was that it supposedly makes a man behave like a

woman. He goes on to explain,

           For forcing sex on men was a way of humiliating them. During war for
           example, besides raping the women and slaughtering the children, the
           victors would often also sodomize the defeated soldiers. The idea was to
           insult the men by treating them like women. So part and parcel of the of the
           practice of male-male anal sex was the notion the men should be “macho”
           and the women are inferior, pieces of property at the service of men.19

                Miguel De La Torre explores this topic in his book “Out of the Shadows

and into the Light.” He writes from the perspective of the contemporary Latino

culture, where the ideas of “macho” and homosexuality differ from our Euro-

American ideas. He suggests;

           Latino do not fear the homosexual; rather, we hold him in contempt for being
           a man who chooses not to prove his manhood. Unlike Euro Americans where
           two men engaged in a sexual act are both called homosexuals, for Hispanics
           only the one that places himself in the “position of the woman” is the
           maricon. Only the one penetrated is labeled loca (crazy woman, a term used
           for maricons). In fact, the man who is in the dominant position during the
           sex act—even with another man—is able to retain, if not increase his

It is my opinion that man’s fears of being subjugated and treated “like a woman”

by other men and considered less than a man, have influenced our laws, our

society and our religions.

Shifting concepts of Marriage

           Marriage and in particularly same-sex marriage, is a hot button issue in our

country at the moment. The discourse around this subjext often contains the

     Helminiak, 46.
     De La Torre, 74

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statement, “We must preserve the Biblical definition of marriage.” But the

boundaries of marriage have always been argued in the Bible, and never have been

settled. The Patriarchs of the Bible had many wives and concubines and Solomon

was reported to have thousands; so much for the definition of one man and one

woman. The anti inter-religious marriage positions of the books of Ezra and

Nehemiah conflict with the genealogical implications of the book of Ruth. Ezra and

Nehemiah insisted that the Israeli men divorce and abandon their foreign wives and

children, to send their wives and their children back to wives native countries. (A

very interesting family value) The book of Ruth—written as a response to Ezra and

Nehemiah according to some scholars— reveals that the union between an Israelite

man and a Moabite woman resulted in a bloodline that led to Israel’s greatest King,

David. The Davidic line of Kings and genealogy is reported by the gospels to lead to

Jesus of Nazareth. This conflict in the text and amongst the writers of the Hebrew

Bible stands as clear evidence that the definition of a proper marriage has been a

reoccurring argument for people of faith through many generations.

       Perhaps because most of us have learned the Bible from a priest, minister or

Sunday school teacher, someone who stands up and tells you what the Bible has to

say, or because clergyman give their views as the definitive answer to any biblical

questions; many congregants as well as seminary students are baffled and

confused to learn what the Bible actually supports and condemns. Taking an

example closer to our own time and in our own country, Stone notes that most

people today think of slavery as morally indefensible. But Christians, congregants

and clergy, used the Bible to defend their position on slavery for hundreds of years,

and did so using arguments about the intrinsic humanity of people of color, that

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today few would dare make. And well into the 20th century the role of and

treatment of women as property and as less than full citizens was biblically justified

and debated in many denominations. Those who oppose women as clergy, do so

citing the Bible as the source of their position.

          In November of 2009, an article appeared in the New York Times about the

marriage of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi on the Oprah show. The two

pledged their love in front of millions of viewers and it received little notice, no

national outcry was heard. However, the article also contained this quote, “’When

you press people on their opposition to gay marriage and gay rights, very often it

reverts to anal sex,’ said Dan Savage, the editorial director of The Stranger, a
Seattle newsweekly”.              The biblical authors always referred to male-male sex and

the idea of lesbian sex did not interest them. Perhaps the same “Everyday

Theology” influenced the authors of those passages in Leviticus, Genesis, Judges

and Romans, as influences the authors of today’s anti gay marriage legislation.

          To be clear, the book of Leviticus has a lot to “say” about sexuality, sexual

practices, menstruation and semen and homosexual sex. There are rules for just

about everything. For example, “you should not uncover the nakedness of your

father’s brother” (18: 14). Assuming that the author of Leviticus was writing to a

male audience, that would qualify as an anti-homosexual statement. But if you go

on to read the whole quote, it says, “you should not approach his wife; she is your

aunt. In Leviticus, to uncover a man’s nakedness refers to his wives and daughters

because they are his possessions. Therefore to uncover a man’s nakedness is to

have sex with his possessions. Today we don’t –or most of society doesn’t—think of

21 accessed 11/18/2009

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women, wives and daughters, as possessions to sell or do with as we please. I

believe it is a safe statement to say, today we find that an abomination.

           In Leviticus 18, there is this whole list of sexual do’s and don’ts and right

before the most famous Leviticus quote of all, “you should not lie with a man as

you do with a woman,” there is often overlooked quote. “You should not give any

of your offspring to sacrifice them to Molech. ” (18:21) Molech was the pagan deity

of the nation of Ammon which was located just east of Cannan.22 Don’t sacrifice

your children to a pagan god? The ancient Hebrew people needed a law or a

commandment to tell them they shouldn’t sacrifice their children to a pagan god?

The fact that the author of Leviticus thought he needed to codify this rule, leads me

to believe that, in fact, child sacrifice was something that had happened at least

once. The rules of life and behavior that today are being quoted to justify our laws

and treatment of gay and lesbian people are from a time and a culture where child

sacrifice was still practiced. To me this brings up a very serious question: how can

we look to Leviticus for our moral compass?


           I stated at the beginning of this paper: The book of Leviticus clearly states

that for two men to have sexual relations is an abomination, sinful and wrong. The

Author of Leviticus stated that, it does not mean homosexuality is wrong. The Bible,

was written by and for man, and is filled with man’s own prejudices and evolving

understandings. The Bible, while inspired, is far from inerrant.

A Call to Action

     Lev. Page 148

Ken Daigle
       Into this discourse about the writings, meanings, interpretation and inerrancy

of the Bible, it is past time for Unity and New Thought to step up and articulate our

understanding. I know that we are not alone in believing the way to determine the

word of God is through scholarship, personal reflection, and revelation on the

writings of the Bible. But there seems to be little airing of that position in the

current public discourse. I would argue while they do not represent the prevailing

views of mainstream Christians, The fundamentalists and literalist have stated their

position so loudly it appears to have determined the parameters of the discussion.

       Homosexuality and homosexual people are not going to go just go away.

Even if we were all to decide today the Bible clearly and simply calls homosexuality

a sin and therefore we must oppose it, there would still be homosexuals in the

world and if fact there will always be. From the references to same sex behavior in

the bible we can assume such behavior has been taking place at least since the

writing of the Bible and probably long before. All independent and objective studies

are clear that attempts at homosexual cure, or reparative therapy, are a sham and

in fact do great psychological harm to the people involved. As many have pointed

out before me, most homosexuals are born of heterosexual relationships, raised in

heterosexual households, live in heterosexual societies and attend fiercely anti-

homosexual churches. Yet, homosexual people still exist. So even if a church

decides that scripture is clear and that God condemns homosexuality. Therefore,

deciding that homosexuals are not welcome in their congregations, there will still be

homosexuals in their pews. For there will be boys and girls born into the families of

that spiritual community, raised an taught by that church, and just like myself

some of those children will be gay and lesbian. They will be learning that it is not

Ken Daigle
ok to be who they are and will be forever wounded by that environment. I believe,

in order for any church to be relevant and lead this nation in the coming years and

decades it must come down publicly on the side of equality, firmly on the side of

love, and boldly right here and now.

           I also would like to acknowledge that there is a genuine desire in people of

faith to understand just what the biblical authors did write and what they meant by

those writings. For many of those good people that written word is, The Word of

God. But, while we have this intellectual discussion of the “right” interpretation or

around the original intent of the Bible writers, there are real world consequences to

the teachings we argue over and about. Helminiak writes,

           From January 1999 to June 1999 (just six months) 43 men and women were
           murdered in anti-gay hate crimes in the United States. These are in addition
           to the well know pistol whipping and crucifixion of 21 year old Mathew
           Sheppard and the beating an burning of 39 year old Billy Jack Gaither. 23

To these men and women and their families this is no intellectual or theological

discussion, this is not even about homosexuality. This is about man’s inhumanity to


     Helminiak, 24.

Ken Daigle

Barr, James. The Bible as a Doucument of Believeing Communites. Chicago: Scholars Press, 1981.
Daniel Helminiak. What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality. San Francisco: Alamo Square Press,
Friedman, Richard Elliott. Who Wrote the Bible. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1997.
Martin, Dale B. Sex and the Single Savior. Louisville: Westminister John Knox Press, 2006.
Miguel De La Torre. Out of the Shadows into the Light. St Lous, MO: Chalis Press, 2009. December 10, 2009.
(accessed December 10, 2009).
Oxford University Press. The Bible, NSRV. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Ken Daigle

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