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August 2013

Jesus and the Gays I: Apartheid, the Bible and Cultural Bias

This is the first in a series of videos that challenges the assumption that the Bible condemns gay and lesbian relationships.   Notes from the lectures can be found under the video clips.  

 

 

 

  1. It is a given that the Bible opposes gay relationships.  Or is it?

  1. The Bible obviously supports Apartheid?

    1. Tower of Babel - God intends separation of races

    2. Story of Ham and Noah results in Canaan, the father of the black races, being cursed.

    3. View reinforced when reading story of Hebrews moving into the land of Canaan and being forbidden to intermarry.

    4. Apartheid is not in the Bible, but if you read the Bible with a worldview that accepts apartheid as a given, you can read it into the text.

      1. You believe apartheid is correct

      2. You see stores in the Bible that can reinforce your belief

      3. You believe that your belief is divinely mandated

  1. What if the same dynamic is in play when we read the Bible through an anti-gay cultural bias?

 


Jesus and the Gays II: Sodom

This is the second in a series of videos that challenges the assumption that the Bible condemns gay and lesbian relationships.   Notes from the lectures can be found under the video clips.  

 

 

 

  1. Sodom

    1. Has nothing to do with gay relationships

    2. It is a story of gang rape - men raping men - in order to emasculate them, humiliate them, turn them into women (which was a bad thing)   In the worldview of the time, being a man was much better than being a woman, and the way you destroyed a man was to make him into a woman.

    3. Later Biblical authors referred to the sin of Sodom as not caring for the poor or being inhospitable (hospitality was a very important cultural value.)  

    4. Modern interpreters came to the story with an anti-gay worldview, they interpreted the story as if the sin was gay sex.  Even coined the term “sodomy” based on this story.

    5. Clearly this is an example of the worldview of the interpreter determining the meaning of the passage.  


Jesus and the Gays III: Leviticus

This is the third in a series of videos that challenges the assumption that the Bible condemns gay and lesbian relationships.   Notes from the lectures can be found under the video clips.

  

 

  1. Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13

    1. Priorities in Leviticus, important for a small fledgling, imperiled community

      1. Procreation

        1. Not “one man, one woman” but rather wives and concubines.  Have sex with slave if wife is barren.

        2. Don't’ waste seed

      2. Remaining pure, homogeneous - be pure as God is pure

        1. Don’t intermarry (that would threaten the survival of the nation)

        2. Don’t cross/breed animals, don’t sow field with 2 kinds of seed.

        3. Quarantine people who are not homogeneous, i.e. who have blemishes or skin rashes.

        4. Side note: Jesus pushed away from the purity codes.  For Jesus, compassion was more important than purity.

      3. Support of what was considered the natural order of things: Men are men - don’t be like women.  Children obey parents - children who curse father or mother are to be put to death

    2. Lev. 18.22 You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.  

Lev 20:13  If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.

  1. Why add “as with a woman?”  Why not just say “You shall not lie with a male?”   The emphasis is on the man taking the submissive role of a woman in the sex act.  This is a violation of the natural order of things as perceived by the author of Leviticus - a natural order in which men should be men.  (Anti-gay bias is often tied to misogyny)

  2. If we do not consider the other prohibitions in Leviticus, why would we single out these two?  Is there a strong anti-gay message in the broader sweep of scripture that would warrant pulling these out of the trash heap of discarded, outdated Levitical laws?  Or is it just being done to support a contemporary anti-gay worldview that is foreign to the gospel?

 

 


Jesus and the Gays IV: 1 Timothy & 1 Corinthians

This is the fourth in a series of videos that challenges the assumption that the Bible condemns gay and lesbian relationships.   Notes from the lectures can be found under the video clips.

  

 

 1 Timothy 1:9-10 This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, 10 fornicators, sodomites (arsenokoites), slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching

1 Cor 6:9   Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes (makalos), sodomites (arsenokoitēs ). . . .

  1. We don’t know what arsenokoites means.  It is a derivation of two words, arsen (male) and koites (bed) = male bedders.   This word is used only twice in the Bible and neither provide a context that helps determine the meaning.  There is a good possibility that Paul is referring to either male prostitution, or more likely, pedastery - which was a common practice in Paul’s day where an adult male would have a prepubescent boy as a sexual partner.  There is no evidence that Paul is referring to committed, mutual relationships between men.  

  2. Makalos literally means “soft.”  It is only used three times in the Bible, once here, and then two other times when talking about the soft robes worn by wealthy people.  In this context, it may refer to the young-boy, prepubescent male prostitute.

  3. In the Corinthians reading, arsenokoites may refer to the man that sleeps with the young male prostitute.

Jesus and the Gays V: Romans

This is the fifth in a series of videos that challenges the assumption that the Bible condemns gay and lesbian relationships.   Notes from the lectures can be found under the video clips.

 

 

  1. Romans 1:18-2

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

(According to Paul, even gentiles have an awareness of God and should be able to live their lives in relationship to God.  Unfortunately they give their allegiance to idols - false gods that promise happiness but don’t deliver.  Don’t we all.)

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

(Idolatry, following false gods (think materialism, addiction, etc.) leads to debased actions from sexual immorality, murder, envy, gossip, etc.  Notice the list of bad actions includes actions that we all have done, and likely still do, such as gossip.)

 

2 Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. 2 You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” 3 Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God?

(So don’t judge.  Looking at the misdeeds of others is part of the problem.  It is an act of idolatry, as if you were the god you were putting your trust in.)

  1. So this is a passage about 1) not living in idolatry, which is something we all do and 2) not judging the behavior of others; judging is in itself an act of idolatry.

  2. This passage is not about the list of bad behaviors.

  3. Does the list of bad behaviors include same-sex relationships

    1. v. 26 Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural.  What does this mean?  It could mean women taking the dominant role in sex with a man.

    2. v. 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.     We don’t know what this means either.  Since male prostitution and pederasty were prominent ways men had sex with other men, then it is likely that was what Paul was referring to.  And what “shameless acts” in first century Rome would cause men to “receive in their bodies the due penalty for their error.”  It is not likely Paul is referring to committed, mutual same-sex relationships.

 

 


Jesus and the Gays VI: The Natural Order of Things

This is the sixth in a series of videos that challenges the assumption that the Bible condemns gay and lesbian relationships.   Notes from the lectures can be found under the video clips.

 

 

  1. But what about the worldview that is present in the Bible?

    1. Is the worldview that is present in the Bible authoritative for us now?  Is the worldview part of the good news, the spiritual truth, or is the worldview simply the ancient context in which the authors lived and they had to write from that context.

    2. Worldview present in some biblical authors

      1. God

      2. Angels/heavenly beings

      3. Men & masculinity

      4. Women married to free men

      5. Women who were daughters of free men

      6. Women who were unattached to a man to give her her value

      7. Lesser orders: slaves, concubines, gentiles, foreigners

      8. eunichs? lepers? people with deformities?

    3. For example, the Bible clearly supports slavery.   Is the Bible telling us that God’s intention for humanity is that we have slaves?  Or is the Bible telling us deeper things, and it happens that it was written at a time when the worldview of the authors included slavery as a given.  

Jesus and the Gays VIII: The Bible as our Guide

This is the eighth and final video in a series that challenges the assumption that the Bible condemns gay and lesbian relationships.   Notes from the lectures can be found under the video clips.

 

 

  1. What is the Bible?

    1. Inspired

    2. Multiple viewpoints - the truth is complex

      1. Paul – saved by grace through faith, not works (nothing we can do to earn God’s love.)

      2. James – faith without works is dead

    3. Shows a development of thought over time

      1. God is warrior -> God is love

      2. No afterlife -> resurrection

    4. Goal is to enter the conversation -- allow the Spirit to shape you as you wrestle with the text.

    5. How do you know what texts are true?

      1. test against the sweep of scripture - the central themes

      2. we reject slavery, even though it is supported in the Bible, because it contradicts what we consider to be central to the message of the Bible

    6. Themes

      1. All people created in God’s image

      2. God is love

      3. Love God, love neighbor, love enemy (have no enemies)

      4. Do not judge - we can’t handle knowledge of good and evil

      5. Forgive and be forgiven

      6. Do not fear - resurrection

      7. Bias toward poor, outcast

      8. Kingdom of Heaven is at hand - live it - communion with God and all people.

  1. Of the 31,000 verses in the Bible, there are five that refer to problematic behavior that could, if stretched, be used to condemn same-sex relationships.  Five.

  1. Ministry of Jesus: Jesus said that the two most important commandments were that we love God and love one another.  He rebuked the Pharisees who rigidly defined standards of holiness and then shunned those who did not meet these standards.  Jesus embraced those who were outcast and marginalized, to the shock of the religious authorities.  For Jesus, compassion was more important than purity.

  1. Experience of the early Church: In Acts 10-15, the Bible shows us how a religious community can come to a new understanding of who is welcome in the church.  The earliest Christians were Jews who thought Jesus only came for the Jews.  Peter, the leader of the early Church, was amazed when he discovered through a vision that God wanted gentiles to be included.  Many of the early Christians strongly opposed the inclusion of these people they considered spiritually unclean.  Acts 10-15 shows this struggle and models for us how a community can come to a new understanding of the breadth of God’s inclusive love.   Becoming more inclusive is biblical.  

  2. Themes of the Gospel

  1. Widening circle of inclusion in our own time