Homosexuality and the Bible -- A Resource

In our conversation about homosexuality and the Christian faith, especially as it relates to the way we read the Bible, reference has been made to Walter Wink's essay on "Homosexuality and the Bible."  That resource is available from Soul Force, both as a pamphlet and as an online essay.  While I can't repost the entire piece here, I'll post the opening paragraphs and then invite you to continue on to read the full essay.  I should note that Walter Wink is Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary.  


Homosexuality and the Bible

by The Rev. Dr. Walter Wink

Sexual issues are tearing our churches apart today as never before. The issue of homosexuality threatens to fracture whole denominations, as the issue of slavery did a hundred and fifty years ago. We naturally turn to the Bible for guidance, and find ourselves mired in interpretative quicksand. Is the Bible able to speak to our confusion on this issue?
The debate over homosexuality is a remarkable opportunity, because it raises in an especially acute way how we interpret the Bible, not in this case only, but in numerous others as well. The real issue here, then, is not simply homosexuality, but how Scripture informs our lives today.
Some passages that have been advanced as pertinent to the issue of homosexuality are, in fact, irrelevant. One is the attempted gang rape in Sodom (Gen. 19:1-29). That was a case of ostensibly heterosexual males intent on humiliating strangers by treating them "like women," thus demasculinizing them. (This is also the case in a similar account in Judges 19-21.) Their brutal behavior has nothing to do with the problem of whether genuine love expressed between consenting adults of the same sex is legitimate or not. Likewise Deut. 23:17-18 must be pruned from the list, since it most likely refers to a heterosexual prostitute involved in Canaanite fertility rites that have infiltrated Jewish worship; the King James Version inaccurately labeled him a "sodomite."
Several other texts are ambiguous. It is not clear whether 1 Cor. 6:9 and 1 Tim. 1:10 refer to the "passive" and "active" partners in homosexual relationships, or to homosexual and heterosexual male prostitutes. In short, it is unclear whether the issue is homosexuality alone, or promiscuity and "sex-for-hire."
To continue reading, click here.  

Note:  It's important to continue on to the full text to get a sense of Wink's understanding.  This is just the opening section of a much longer piece.


Gary said…
Walter Wink is a heretic, or worse. His writings on the subject of homosexuality are an insult to God.

Those of you who seek to justify the sin of homosexuality are fighting a losing battle. In fact, you have already lost. God's position on the subject is very clear. Your problem is that you disagree with God. Well, go ahead. But you will not be pleased with the outcome of that.
Stacy said…
Gary, you have just shut down any possibility of a thoughtful discussion. You write as though you are the official spokesman for the Almighty. Your post was thoughtless and mean spirited. You've essentially proven the contention that many, many (dare I say most) evangelicals are condemning and completely thoughtless in their approach to any discussion about God, the Bible or Jesus.

It's people like you that keep me as far away from any church as I can get.
John said…
I repeat what I said near the end of the last thread:

Human sexuality is a gift from God. It manifests itself in each of us a little differently, thus the gift is different for each of us, but it is still a gift.

The Bible does not quote Jesus speaking about homosexuality. Nevertheless, I know that Jesus loves me and I am just as certain that he loves you, and the same for the homosexual that lives around the block from you.

And I know how Jesus would react if he were confronted with the issue. I know that Jesus didn't condemn the woman caught in adultery even though her neighbors were outraged, and even though Jesus was well aware not only that she [engaged in] this biblically proscribed behavior, but also that the prescribed penalty was death, the same penalty for someone found engaging in homosexual conduct. I can only assume that if you brought a homosexual before him he would respond to the homosexual the same way, "neither do I condemn you." And I think he would respond to you in the same way he would respond to the woman's accusers.

That is the outcome I anticipate.
John said…

Gary is extreme and he is not representative of normative Christian values.

For all his hatefulness, Gary does keep us honest, forcing us to think through our values and to test them against Scripture and warning us to be careful about twisting God into something unrecognizable. So in his own way he is a blessing.

Don't let his viciousness put you off about others. Pray for him for he lives fearfully in a world governed by the Wrath of the God he imagines.
Gary said…

You're not interested in any thoughtful discussion. You're interested in someone who will tell you that what you believe is true, even if it isn't.

And I am happy to contribute to your avoidance of church.
Gary said…

John is wrong. I am very representative of all Bible believers back to New Testament times. None of them were accepting of sexual perverts either.

The "Jesus" that John believes in will let you do anything you want with no negative consequences, which I suspect, is exactly the kind of "Jesus" you would like. Unfortunately for John and for you, that isn't the Jesus the Bible talks about.
John said…

Worry not about Gary's comments. He's tying to drive as many people as he can away from church because he thinks that will increase his odds of getting tinto heaven.

God will have so few to choose from he will have to choose Gary.
David said…
Avoiding church because of people who think like Gary gives them control, and even ownership, in this case of hapless groups seekers.

I'd mention a couple, but I don't want to advertize Gary's church.
David said…
"He's tying to drive as many people as he can away from (his brother's) church (because he's jealous)."

That's it! aggressively passive/ aggressive
Brian said…
We are sounding desperate, like a high school kid 3 weeks before prom. Stacy - if you don't want to go to church, that is cool. Everyone of us on this thread benefit from new people coming to church. You and you alone will know if and when you want to become part of a congregation. This is not "radical individualism" or "consumerist social mores". This is a human being.

When the Book of Acts of the Apostles presents an image of the followers of the Way growing, it is not d/t telling people they need spiritual community. They join because they know they want that in their lives.

We (the Church) have stopped being a community people want to join. Instead, we've become an awkward teen desperately trying to not be alone on prom night.

Peace be with you Stacy, with or without church.
Robert Cornwall said…
Me thinks the conversation is going in circles, don't you think?
David said…
Hey Brian, there were no professional preachers here (in comments) before you and Bob piped in. Just sayin'.
Anonymous said…
What is bothersome about Gary is his lack of biblical scholarship and his unreasonable and unloving responses.

For example, his opening comment features angry name calling and unsubstaniated beliefs. He offers no biblical references or scholarship for anything he says.

When he offers a more congenial attitude and a more studied response, then he will contribute to the conversation.
man with desire said…
For the sake of sodomites' abomination acts, God destroyed Sodom as Ezekiel 16:49,50 shows for us. Ezekiel uses 16:50 Hebrew word towebah, which is the same Hebrew word in Lev 18:22 (and Lev 20:13) that describes homosexuality as abomination. It is very clear that in Ezekiel 16:50, abomination means homosexuality acts as the reason for destroying of Sodom. Sodomites pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness and hardened hearts towards poor and needy were sins, but destruction came for the sake of homosexuality, and the New Testament confirms this:

Jude1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Apostle Paul wrote very clearly that homosexuality (men having sex with other men; women having sex with other women) is a sin. Ro 1:27 is word error, which is in Greek plane, which means error, to deceive, deceit, one led astray from the right way, error which shows itself in action, a wrong mode of acting. In this place, the Bible in the New Testament shows very clearly that same-gender sex is a sin and aberration from the right way. Apostle Paul taught very clearly that homosexuality is unnatural sin.

Many scientists believe that homosexuality is congenital, a matter and orientation that can't be changed as heterosexual. Paradoxical is that many scientists don't believe in God of the Bible, and they proclaim that God of the Bible is not existed. Nevertheless, God of the Bible is capable of change homosexuals individuals to be as heterosexuals.

Arsenos means male and koiten means bed. Lev 18:22 and 20:13 teach that a man cannot lie (sexual act) with another man as he lies with a woman. The origin of the word arsenokoites means homosexual activity and homosexual. Lev 18:22 and 20:13 prove very clearly that arsenos koitenmeans homosexuality sex, because the Jews scribes translated words' arsenos koiten to describe men who have sex with another men (homosexuality), which is a sin and against the will of God. Apostle Paul didn't make up the word arsenokoites, but it was already as the concept in the Old Testament, where it meant homosexuality.

It is very clear that the words' arsenos koiten meant homosexuality (man who had sex with another man) to Jews of the Old Covenant era. In the same way arsenokoites meant homosexuality (man who had sex with another man) to Jesus' disciples in the New Covenant era.

Jewish philosopher Philo lived in the same time as Jesus Christ and Philo has said that arsenokoites meant shrine prostitute (male temple prostitute), and not homosexual. Some people have made from this a conclusion that the word arsenokoites meant a male temple prostitute. Philo's interpretation was totally wrong, because the Bible proves this undisputedly and shows that Philo erred.

Lev 18:22 and Lev 20:13 doesn't use temple prostitute word, but words in which is denied that a man can't lie sexually with another man. Always when the Bible speaks for temple prostitutes, so the Bible uses words gedeshah and gadesh. If Lev 18:22 and Lev 20:13 told for temple prostitutes, so verses would mention them, but there isn't, because in those verses, the Bible forbids homosexuality. It is very clear and undisputable in the light of the testimony of the Bible, that arsenokoites means homosexuality.

Reference: http://koti.phnet.fi/petripaavola/homosexual.html
John said…

I think you misread Ezekiel 16:50. It says:

49 This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. 50 They were haughty, and did abominable things before me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.

It says these were all of her sins and for these sins I destroyed her. In successive sentences, a couplet, Ezekiel says:

(A-1) Sodom was proud
(A-2) Sodom did not care for the needy.
(B-1) Sodom was haughty
(B-2) Sodom did an abomination before me.
(C) and so I removed her.
I read it as saying that the failure to care for the needy WAS the abomination.

It does NOT say: Sodom was guilty of failing to care for the needy but I did not pubnish her for that,but Sodom was also guilty of an abomination and for this I destroyed her.

As for the Jude quote, what is "strange flesh?" Angels? The visitors to Sodom were angels and not men, and thus they had no gender. If the people of Sodom were going to rape them they were going to have a hard time about it.

Romans 1:26 recites the fact that because people sinned they were divinely punished by being given over to lust and then sets forth the various kinds of lusts which they experienced, including same gender sex acts. I find this quote interesting because it seems to indicate that the conduct is undertaken in response to a divinely transmitted urge. If so, it seems that the urge is likely from God and thus irresistible!?! Nevertheless, I concede that the quote regards illicit sex acts between people of the same gender as well as between people of opposite genders as fornication and inappropriate.

I am not going to argue Greek with you because I don't know Greek. But I do find it odd that you trust your Greek skills above Philo's Greek skills - even though it was his native tongue. But I do know that there was no such words as "homosexual" and "homosexuality" in Greek. In Greek and Roman society sex between men of prominence and boys was common, accepted, and even encouraged as a vehicle of social apprenticeship for the young men and and statement of status for the older men. It was about power an not mere sexual expression. Homosexual love was simply not understood as such in those societies.

As for the Leviticus quotes, just because you want them to stand for something else doesn't mean they do.

In the end, people are people. They do what they are wired to do, and God loves them, the way they were made, and God blesses them the way they were made. God calls on each of us to love as best we can, in the ways we are wired to love, and to care for each other with the gifts we have. And God calls on us to forgive and not to judge.

Let it go.
Steven Carlton said…
I don't think homosexual is a big issue. As long as you are happy , and you have the faith for the Lord. Watch videos here Christian Movies and you'll learn a lot!

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