In light of a sudden increase in gay-marriage debates, much of Western society has become actively aware of the controversies surrounding the future of mankind. Each argument posed by the Panel is easily traced back to its Christian origins – or so the basis of today’s Western law. However, with an increase in religious curiosity comes an increase in Biblical interpretations. This is to say that regardless of one’s spiritual status, understanding Biblical Scripture from an objectively academic point of view in itself may aid one’s understanding of one of today’s largest debates. Simply stated, if one were to understand the background of each verse used against homosexuals, it becomes evident that the issues against homosexuality in the Bible are, if anything, implicit and not directly condemned. Implicit, because the Bible, when translated into today’s English, has brought to light variations of what is supposedly the same text. Nevertheless, using a version closest to its original text – the Greek, Hebrew and Roman text – will provide consistency and a less deviating interpretation. Alas, if the popular thesis in the religious sect is that homosexuality is a sin and that same-sex marriage is an abomination, a closer look at each verse in context may enlighten many who are subject to blind-faith.
Beginning chronologically, one must first start with the creation of mankind. God created Adam and Eve, as male and female, to conceive and carry on the human race. By falling short of God’s single commandment to not eat the forbidden fruit introduced sin. God’s original intention for mankind was perfection – which means that God’s original intention was for man to be with a woman. However, this also means that man was created without defect: no blindness, no deafness, no handicaps, no mental illnesses and so forth. Perhaps God did not intend for humans to become homosexual, but He also did not intend for humans to be born with deficits1. In Genesis 19:1-11, the Bible refers to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and how it was destroyed because the People demanded gay sex. The misconception is that homosexuality is a sin – in reality, Lot was protecting his household from intruders, and did not allow the males of his home to enter into sex with other men for this would render his home a brothel. This part of Genesis is not condemning homosexuality – it is condemning the idolisation of homosexuals.
Later on in Leviticus 18:22, it clearly states that “thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination,”2. This verse alone was part of a Jewish Holiness Code, and it was written to the Israelites of Biblical times. If the whole of Leviticus were to be taken literally, and not subject to anti-gay propaganda, it is evident that many of the laws in Leviticus were later eradicated by the Christian church. These laws included mandatory circumcision, that a female cannot enter a church within thirty-three days of giving birth to a son (sixty-six if it is a daughter), one must not cut their hair or eat certain types of meat, including rabbit and shark. Contextually speaking, the verse in Leviticus was adopted by the Jewish religion rather than the Christian church. Leviticus Chapter 12 also states that if man encounters mildew among his possessions, it must be taken to the priest for inspection and cleansed thoroughly. If the verse in Leviticus is taken literally, is not the failure to present mildew-damaged items to the priest also an abomination in itself?
What anti-gay critics choose not to mention, however, is Leviticus 19:24-25, where the host did not allow the men to have sex with his male guest, but offered up his daughter and his concubine. The men later raped the concubine and left her on his doorstep. The next day, he took the deceased concubine away and cut her into pieces. The verse itself does not condemn homosexuality, yet the latter section of these verses seem to be conveniently obscured when debating. This is not to say that it is a greater sin, but it would appear that the context of this verse has been commonly misinterpreted. The verses in 1st and 2nd Kings condemn homosexual prostitution, but not homosexuality in itself.
One must bear in mind that the Old Testament was written for the Israelites who left Egypt. Paul later goes on to write the New Testament, directed at Gentiles. The verse commonly quoted from Romans 1:27 states that “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 met,”3. If taken literally, this verse states that homosexual behaviour is unnatural and unseemly; in context, however, Paul is referring to those who are practising homosexual acts on Holy Soil, in the Temple of God. This is not a reference to the entirety of homosexuality.
In 1 Corinthians, it states blatantly that sex outside of marriage is an abomination: this is not a sheer reference to homosexuality, rather a reference to the totality of sex outside of marriage. Conversely, if a homosexual were to wait until marriage before indulging in lust, theoretically this would not be a sin. The first part of 1 Corinthians Chapter 6, however, does condemn lawsuits. Paul claims that man should not enter into lawsuits, for this creates a judgement, and implies that man has a vengeful heart. The verse in 1 Timothy is a holistic reference to sin in general, and the verse in Jude, a reminder of the story in Sodom and Gomorrah.
In sum, the verses commonly used by anti-gay organisations have been wildly misinterpreted, taken out of context and used at the convenience of those who feel have been appointed the right to condone or condemn homosexuality. If God’s original intention were for human perfection, one needs to account for those who are born with deficits. Perhaps homosexuality is unnatural, but this does not make it a sin. Wherefore as humans, are we regressing or progressing?
The contemporary Church has taken the liberty of openly and publicly debating issues regarding homosexuality, abortion, capital punishment and so forth. The problem with the criticism which goes both ways, is that Christians are commonly judged for the conservatives radicals who have come to disagree with Enlightenment progression; conversely, homosexuals are judged by the percentage of those who do not set a “model example” for gays. If the balance between the two were to be drawn, there is one simple question to be asked (especially for homosexual Christians).
“If gay marriage were to be legalised and gays waited before marriage, would the above arguments still suffice?”
This controversy has been an ongoing issue, popularised in the last semi-century. Nevertheless, the only way to generate an argument that will actually lead to progress is to be compassionate towards the minority, but also to those who are ignorant and unenlightened. To be open-minded to those who are different, but also to those who have their reasons to remain fundamentalists. To be tolerant of those who behave unnaturally, but also tolerant to homophobia.
It is not our purpose to change one another: it is our purpose to inspire.
1As for whether or not homosexuality is genetic, please refer to my previous essay “The Great Dispute,” 2009.
2Leviticus. King James Version … [New York]: n.p., 1911. Print.
3Romans. King James Version … [New York]: n.p., 1911. Print.