By Dan Brooks
(also posted in his blog http://ldsviews.blogspot.ca/)
Out of 31,000 verses in the Holy Bible there are only six thought to reference homosexuality.
Let’s see if putting these verses in the ancient context from which they sprang can help edify us of the original purpose of these verses.
It is helpful to understand that in the ancient world there was no understanding of sexual orientation as we know it today. In ancient Greek there was no corresponding word for homosexual/homosexuality. The word homosexual only enters into the English language in the late 19th century. And recent studies over the last couple decades have illuminated understanding of how it is that some are born with a different sexual orientation.
It was thought in ancient times that same sex relations only resulted for extreme lust, it was also a practice of many ancient middle eastern and Mediterranean armies to humiliate the armies and peoples they conquered by forcing themselves on the women AND men alike. It was not done out of lust or love but out of a need to humiliate the conquered men.
So let’s look at these verses one at a time as they appear in scripture: Genesis 19 tells the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. The traditional view, which is relatively recent considering that age of the text, says that when the mob outside Lot’s door demands the two male visitors then that it proof it is the lustful homosexuality of those men leading them to make such demands.
But in context of the ancient world from which this texts springs it is a foot note sin; that of being so lustful that they turn also to other men to satiate their carnal desires. Not that they were homosexual. The text in these verses intend to say: Gang rape is bad, not homosexuality for which a word did not exists for it, is bad.
And furthermore; that was not the sin that lead to their destruction. Ezekiel writes in his 16th chapter:
48 As I live—declares the Lord GOD—your sister Sodom and her daughters did not do what you and your daughters did. 49 Only this was the sin of your sister Sodom: arrogance! She and her daughters had plenty of bread and untroubled tranquility; yet she did not support the poor and the needy.
The Hebrew word “Sodom” (סודם) is etymologically related to the Hebrew word (שדה), “fertile field.” The implication is that Sodom was a fertile farming area, good for grazing animals. The Hebrew word “Gomorrah” (עמורה) derives etymologically from the word (עומר) meaning “sheaf of grain.” By using these names for these cities, the writer is implying that the area of Sodom and Gomorrah was good for the growing of grains like, wheat, barley, oats, rye, etc. This is also why the Prophet Ezekiel states: “She and her daughters had plenty of bread and untroubled tranquility.” So, what then were the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah?
Their sins had nothing to do with having a different sexual orientation. And if God gave you your orientation how are you to know that he did not also give a gay person theirs? Who but God has control over creation? Aren’t gay people a part of creation as well? Are they not therefore entitled to the same love and consideration you or I deserve?
One commenter said “There’s a difference between being gay and acting gay.”
Really? So is there a difference between being straight and “acting” straight? If you believe gay people choose to be gay then ask yourself when you chose to be straight? Orientation is not a choice it is inborn and there is scientific proof of this.
Thou shall not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is an abomination.
Pretty strong statement. And the penalty is death so it must really be bad.
And they set on for him by himself, and for them by themselves, and for the Egyptians, which did eat with him, by themselves: because the Egyptians might not eat bread with the Hebrews; for that is an abomination unto the Egyptians. (Genesis 43:32)
Exodus 8:26: And Moses said, It is not meet so to do; for we shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God: lo, shall we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and will they not stone us?
Abomination in both these contexts is used to distinguish between things which are inherently Israelite and things which are foreign.
In Exodus 35:2 it is also punishable by death to work on the sabbath. 1) The sabbath is actually the 7th day or Saturday not Sunday. 2) If you insist on saying gays are an abomination then shouldn’t you also put those who work on the sabbath to death also? Should we not remain consistent in practicing our beliefs?
Or should we instead say “He who is without sin may cast the first stone as Christ did?
Then in Romans 1:26-27 We have this: For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
This cause Paul speaks of is Idolatry not homosexuality AND this verse speaks of straight men and women who reject their God given sexual orientations and turn to one that is unnatural for them, not for all. This issue of sexuality mirrors the rejection of God for Idols also made through this argument made by Paul. Paul says they knew God but rejected him, they turned from what was natural for them and turned to what was unnatural in both cases.
In the ancient world it was deem natural for men to be active sexually but unnatural for women to be active it was deemed natural for them to be passive. Which holds true for many people today. So because of this homosexual relations were seen as unnatural. To the Greeks and Romans it was seen as ok for men to have sex with their male slaves IF those slave masters were in the dominant role; IF however, they were in the subservient role then that was looked down on.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
So does the treatment of gay people mirror the way Jesus treated everyone he met? Does this “Traditional” view of homosexuality and the Bible bear good fruit? It in fact results in massive suicide rates in gay communities, gay Christian born souls, it results in marginalization, evictions of gay teens to the streets, it results in self-loathing and self-medicating.
How is this considered good fruit?
Jesus focused on those that were marginalized, those who were rejected by society so if we were to mirror Christ’s life then wouldn’t we want to unconditionally love those who are on the outskirts of society? Those kicked out of their homes, those rejected by their family, those who have been hated by others so much that they hate themselves more than anyone or anything else?
Sexual orientation is, odd as it sounds, not just about sex. It is the mechanism by which you are able to fall in love. Having a thing for women with curly hair, or for red heads does not mean you fall in love with every woman fitting that bill but it facilitates the spark between you and a woman who does. And so it is with those who are orientated towards members of the same sex.
This mechanism also allows for the building of a relationship, of a family, of a marriage.
Who are we to deny these blessings to those whose only crime is being, or acting, as God himself has made them? Who are we to tell God’s children, any of them, they are an abomination-a crime against-Him when He saw fit to make them as they are?
I have a daughter who just came out to me, she loves God. She loves Christ and she goes to Church weekly and attends activities. I fear for the narrow minded scorn she may face, I fear for the hate she will face in life. I cry for the love, the understanding, the compassion that is so lacking in our Church and yet is so abundant in the one whose name graces every church and every missionaries name plate.
Who are we to condemn what God has made, who are we to spurn His children?
Who are we to cast the first stone, when none of us are without sin AND when the only man who ever was refused to cast the stone when He was given the chance?
I’m Dan Brooks a 30 something active LDS member married with 4 step children living in SLC, UT. I am interested in writing about how we can get back to being Christlike.
(Admin note: There are no references to homosexuality in the Book of Mormon, D&C or Pearl of Great Price)