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Debunking the Biblical Myth

 

By Keith Boykin

 

With all the talk about Christianity and homosexuality, it's worth examining what the Bible really says about the issue.

 

Before we begin, it's important to understand how the Bible has been used over time to justify bigotry. The Bible was used to justify racism ("slaves be obedient to your masters," Ephesians 6:5-9). The Bible was used to justify sexism (women should wear modest apparel and should not teach men, 1 Timothy 2:9-15).

 

The Bible was used to justify anti-Semitism (the crucifixion of Jesus in Matthew 27:25 helped reinforce anti-Jewish beliefs). And today the Bible is used to justify heterosexualism and homophobia.

 

There are four main biblical passages cited to justify Christian beliefs against homosexuality: (1) the story of Adam and Eve, (2) the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, (3) the prohibition in Leviticus, and (4) the writings of Paul. Neither one makes the case.

 

I. Adam and Steve

First, the creation story in Genesis 2-5 is often cited to prove that "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve," but the story proves no such thing. After Cain killed his brother Abel, he was banished to a land east of Eden where he started a family and built a city (Genesis 4:16-17).

 

But since the Bible at this point mentions no other humans besides Adam and Eve, how could Cain have created such a city if there were no other people on Earth? Clearly, the story of Adam and Eve does not tell us all of the people that God created, so it's quite possible that there were "Adam and Steve" couples around as well.

 

II. Sodom and Gomorrah

Second, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18-19) is often cited to show God's dislike for homosexuality, but this too oversimplifies the biblical text. It's hard to figure out who the good guys are in this story because Lot, the supposed hero, pimps his two daughters to the men of the town in exchange for rescuing the two angels who have come to stay with him.

 

   

 

It's also hard to figure out what crime was committed that caused God's wrath to be brought on the town. If you read the Bible chronologically, then God planned to destroy the city (Genesis 18:20) well before the incident in which the men attempt to rape the angels (Genesis 19:9), suggesting that the attempted rape was not the primary cause of God's anger.

 

Even if it were the cause, few gays and lesbians would disagree that rape should be condemned, but rape is not the same as homosexuality. And if you read Ezekiel 16:49, God never mentions homosexuality among the list of Sodom's sins. All together, it's hardly a compelling case that the story condemns homosexuality.

 

III. Leviticus

Third, the biblical passage in Leviticus 18:22 that man "shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind" fails to prove that homosexuality is wrong coming from a book (Leviticus) that is selectively quoted and widely ignored.

 

Most modern gay men would probably say they do not "lie with" men as they would with women because many do not "lie with" women at all. But the Leviticus passage refers to a time when men with homosexual inclinations were still expected to marry women.

 

For a man to lie with a man was called an "abomination." It seems like a pretty serious charge until you consider the other abominations in Leviticus. Eating pork (Lev. 11:7) or seafood (Lev. 11:9), planting mingled seeds (Lev. 19:19) or wearing polycotton blends (Lev. 19:19) could also put you in the Leviticus dog house.

 

But how many black ministers are willing to condemn these practices?

 

IV. Paul's Writings

Fourth, Paul's critical message about homosexuality has been widely debated by biblical scholars, but Paul is hardly a standard that modern Christians would follow. It was Paul, after all, who wrote that women should "adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array" (I Timothy 2:9).

 

That means the church ladies would have to take off their hats, their weaves, their gold earrings and their pearl necklaces before they could condemn homosexuals. And even then they could not condemn gay men because Paul does not allow women "to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence."

 

The Christian critics of homosexuality rarely mention Jonathan's homosexual love affair with David (I Samuel 18:20, II Samuel 1), the omission of homosexuality from the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20) or Jesus' omission of any criticism of homosexuality.

 

They see the Bible as a weapon of hate instead of a tool for love. But if homosexuality were such a big concern to Christ, then surely Jesus would have mentioned it and someone would have recorded it.

 

Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus take up the issue. Instead, when asked to choose the greatest of the commandments (Matthew 22:36), he explains the greatest commandment is to love.

 

Keith Boykin is a writer, journalist and political commentator. He blogs at Keithboykin.com

 

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