Dr. Robert Wintemute
Case For Legal Recognition
Perhaps the most popular translation of the Bible
is the King James version, named for a 17th century British king who was himself
notorious for his homosexual affairs. In translating the ancient Greek term “arsenokoitai”
the translators used “sodomite”. They thereby reinforced the misconstrued Sodom
story and introduced their own views about the sinful nature of those involved
in homosexual acts. Boswell and other scholars have convincingly argued that this
term refers to male prostitutes, particularly those pagans who were ritual temple
prostitutes. Thus, these references condemn prostitution, but more particularly
a type of prostitution associated with the worship of idols. The association of
homosexual acts with pagan cultures and idol worship is a recurrent theme in the
Bible. This context was not apparent to the King James translators, who used a
term that they and others of their day would understand, but which is misleading.
Of course, they did not use the term “homosexual”, because both the word and the
concept were entirely unknown to them.
3. Christianity vs. Judaism
The Sodom story is in the part of the Bible that Christians refer to as the
Old Testament. The Old Testament is a respected foundation for Christian beliefs,
but its teachings are never absolute authorities for Christians. The early Christian
Church struggled with the question of whether Christianity was a Jewish sect,
or whether the uncircumcised Gentiles would also be welcome in what was really
an entirely new religion. The Pauline view of a universal church prevailed, and
Christians were said to not be bound by Jewish laws and traditions, such as circumcision
and keeping kosher. This is important because one of the most frequently invoked
passages against homosexuality in the Bible is found in Leviticus, with its ringing
language of “abomination”. This is the Holiness Code, that also contains the
prohibitions on eating pork and wearing fabrics made of two different fibers.
While these laws are faithfully observed by Orthodox Jews, they are not binding
on Christians. Since Christians regularly engage in the other “abominations” identified
in Leviticus, it is truly disingenuous to cite this passage as authority for Christian
condemnation of homosexual acts. In fact, Jesus Christ said nothing about homosexuality
at all. However, he did say a great deal about religious hypocrisy, and urged
his followers to love the most marginalized members of their society rather than
engage in public displays of pious compliance with Jewish law.
 Boswell, supra note 5,
Christianity at 98-99.
 20:13, King James Version.