sure which faith group
your spirituality may be aligned with?
Case For Legal Recognition
There are several arguments that have underlined this remarkable change in thinking
about a previously unchallenged orthodoxy. First, there is the argument that certain
Biblical references have been misconstrued as condemning homosexuality. Second,
it is argued that some of the terms used by the original authors of Scripture
have been mistranslated by persons who were influenced in their renditions by
an imperfect understanding of the original text. Third, it is said that there
is no Biblical pronouncement against homosexuality that is authoritative for Christians.
Fourth, it is argued that arguments about the sinful nature of homosexual acts
are based on philosophical attitudes hostile to all non-procreative sex that are
rejected by modern Christians. Fifth, it is said that Biblical teaching is based
on ancient scientific beliefs that are now demonstrably wrong. Sixth, and most
importantly, it is argued that our scientific understanding of sexual orientation
was unknown to the authors of the Bible, and that the validity of their pronouncements
must be questioned in light of the context of ancient understanding of the nature
of homosexual acts.
I will deal briefly with each of these topics:
The most influential text that has supported
the ecclesiastical and legal persecution of homosexuals has been the story of
Sodom. In the story, angels visit Lot at Sodom. A mob demands that the strangers
be bought out “that we may know them”. Lot offers his daughters to the mob, unsuccessfully,
and the evil intentions of the mob are frustrated when they are struck blind.
God later destroys Sodom. It will be seen at once that the act that is central
to the story is one of homosexual rape, which says nothing about loving relationships
between same sex couples. Bailey and others have pointed out that Jesus never
cited the Sodom story as evidence of God’s condemnation of homosexuality. It was
later writers like Philo who blamed tolerance of homosexuality for Sodom’s fate.
In fact, the Sodom story is still a valid moral condemnation of rape. However,
the historical context was that righteous persons extended hospitality to strangers
in a time when there were few inns. Homosexual rape was an indignity that was
often imposed on defeated enemies, so to degrade your guests in the manner of
an enemy would have been particularly horrifying to people of that time. Even
after this context was lost, it is interesting that the focus of concern became
the homosexual nature of the threatened act, rather than the violent nature of
a gang rape.
supra note 2 at 21-22, 26.