Any evangelical and/or other homophobic types – please save us all some time and don’t bother asserting whatever it is you believe in the comments. We have a strict comment approval system and I will continue to delete your comments. Feel free to use this to bolster your sense of moral superiority. – APS
Many people struggle with the question of how to reconcile basic human decency and the clear testimony of the Bible, which in four or five difficult-to-understand verses clearly condemns homosexuality. Why? Well, it’s hard to come up with a reason that actually makes sense, but one thing is absolutely clear — the Bible is clearly against homosexuality and clearly condemns it. That’s just a brute fact that we have to deal with, clearly.
I don’t think it’s clear at all. In fact, through studying with Ted Jennings, I have become convinced that the majority of the Bible is actually pro-homoeroticism and that the few verses that seem to “condemn” “homosexuality” are not clear at all, in either their referent or their intention — in fact, the only “clear condemnation” seems to be a prohibition of male-male anal sex in Leviticus, a book of the Bible that is not and cannot be directly binding on Christians. Romans 1:26-27 is unclear in its referent, particularly 1:26, which is the only passage that can even arguably be construed as maybe referring to female-female relations — but which is in fact a very weirdly constructed, elliptical verse whose meaning is not at all clear. All the supposed references in Pauline vice lists are isolated words, one of which appears to be Paul’s own coinage, and none of which draws on the rich vocabulary of homoeroticism available to and widely known by speakers of Greek, for God’s sake, which is to say, the language of the culture most famous for its penchant for homoeroticism.
So: if the argument is that the Bible “clearly condemns” homosexuality such that we need to treat it as a brute fact, well, sorry — it’s not clear at all.
Of course, this post is rather impatient and unclear and probably unconvincing to those who need to be convinced. For that reason, I direct you to the first two parts of a projected trilogy by Ted Jennings: The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives from the New Testament and Jacob’s Wound: Homoerotic Narrative In The Literature Of Ancient Israel. The third part will trace the origin of homophobia and show how it became grafted into Christianity. (It is unfortunate that this last one is not published yet, because it provides the back-up for many of my exegetical claims above.)