MY STAND: The conviction of a Gospel Minister. (Part 1).

  MY REAL STAND!

Out of my solemn respect and regard for the Leadership of Praise Creations International, a praise and bible based ministry that is charge with the mandate to establish praise in the heart of men; thereby making humanity creations of praise. I deem it necessary to submit my convictions as regards same sex loving persons. This is not based on my sentiment, knowledge or tolerance of the three basic human sexual orientation, neither is it based my dogmas, prejudices or commitments as a Christian. I do not wish to affirm, convince or lobby for a particular stand as regards homosexuality and Christianity, rather I am declaring the divine mercy, love, inclusion and peace that all human have obtained in Christ Jesus. Therefore, my stand is in “Jesus” who is “Love”.

Jesus is the word of God, the word that is God and became flesh (John 1:1-2, 14). The world and all that dwells therein were darkness and sin but Jesus came as the Life and Light of humanity; the light that no darkness can overcome (John 1:4-5). The love of God for mankind is manifested in Jesus (John 3:16); minding the clause ‘whosoever’, God in 1 John 4:7-8 urges us to love one another, for love is of God. God`s love in Christ Jesus holds no distinction and no prejudice (Galatians 3:28). James 2:1-6 and Matthew 7:1-5 urged us not do observe outward appearance and not to be judge over anyone. It is on this grounds and recommendations that I have deemed it pertinent to explore the scriptures and the words of Jesus that affirms same sex relationships.

I have come to understand that there are many ways to read and the study the scriptures, spiritual and intellectual sound ways; that are gay-affirming. We can hold on to an anti-gay interpretation but that is our choice, the scriptures do not compel it.  There are stories which the writers of the bible included under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that are amazingly gay-positive. There are five passages of the scriptures that affirms gay people and their relationships. Odds are, that the meaning of these passages concerning sexual minorities have not been preached or practically explored. The truth of these passages threatens some of our society`s deepest prejudices and their positive messages are usually ignored. Given how often we preach against homosexuality, one might think there might be hundreds of scriptures on the subject. In fact, there are only six traditional (negative) passages and none of them addresses the situation of the 21st century gay people, who desire to live in loving relationships with the blessings of God.

I would take my time to explore the six negative passages and the five positive verses. This would express and quantify the grounds of my convictions that Jesus at this time is calling for the inclusion and acceptance of LGBT persons in his Body, (the church). In Matthew 11:28, Jesus calls on the weary and the burdened to come unto him. This also implies to the weariness and heaviness of having a diverse sexuality. It is a burden because daily, LGBT persons live with the stigma, discrimination and condemnation of their sexuality. They are daily placed in an awkward position where they must prove the validity of their personality.

There are many genuinely same sex loving persons in the body of Christ, who render services and preach the gospel of salvation but are constantly hiding, denying and suppressing their innate sexuality because of the long standing Christian views that have neglected and promoted the discrimination of homosexuality. Many of such persons are in all walks of life from the pastoral, political, wealthy and even up the peasant class. The basis of this approach and prejudice is centered on the scriptures. It is no doubt that the scriptures of been used over the ages to promote and validate most of our cultural and social prejudice and convictions. Take for instance, the biblical stand on slavery which the Europeans have used to enslave African and African Americans believing that we are descendants of Ham, thus the curse recorded in Genesis 9: 25-27 demonstrates why we deserve slavery. This is the same approach used by conservative Christians to validate their stand against homosexuality.

Leviticus 18 and 20 which is the Israel’s holiness code, contain verses that are clearly identified as speaking against cultic idol worship. If we wish to understand the true meaning of these verses, we must look at their context, both textual and historical. Until we understand what prompted these rules in Old Testament times, we will not be able to determine if the rules should be applied to the case of two people in committed, loving relationship. The text itself gives us a big clue as to the intended meaning. Three different times we are specifically told that the rules set forth in chapters 18 and 20 are meant to prevent the Israelites from doing what the Egyptians and Canaanites did. The Canaanites refers to the group of nations who lived in the land into which the Israelites migrated when they left Egypt. It follows, therefore, if we can determine what type of homosexual behavior was common among the Canaanites and Egyptians, we will better understand what these verses were meant to prohibit. Bearing in mind that the entire passages are generally accepted as not applying to modern Christianity, I would not dwell on this verse.

The account recorded in Genesis 19 of Sodom and Gomorrah is a story of attempted gang rape of two strangers who are said to be God`s messengers. The motivation to sexually abuse those we hate is, sadly, part of the general human experience (even if it is not part of each of our personal experiences). This is the motivation, not homosexual desire that stands behind the sin of Sodom. Perhaps the men of that city feared the two angelic strangers were spies. Perhaps the fact that Lot (an immigrant) had taken them in, served to heighten their suspicion. Whatever caused their panic, a mob mentality took over, and before long the people of Sodom were at Lot’s house clamoring to brutalize the strangers. This is a story about attempted mob violence, gang rape not homosexual desire.

To test this proposition, supposedly the two angels in the story had been women, and the event unfolded exactly the same: The men of Sodom clamored to have sex with the two female angels and God destroyed the city. Do you think anyone would conclude this story was a blanket condemnation of heterosexuality? Of course not! Instead, we all would conclude (correctly) that the wickedness of Sodom was shown by their desire to sexually violate two strangers in their midst. There are about twenty references to the story of Sodom in the Bible, and none of them says homosexuality was the sin of Sodom. One of the most extensive references to Sodom is found in Ezekiel 16:49-50. It is clear from this passage (and others like it) that the abomination of Sodom, according to the Old Testament prophets, was that they behaved with callous indifference toward the weak and vulnerable-the poor, orphans, widows, and strangers in their midst.

Many Christians only know the stereotypes they learned in childhood. They buy into the idea that all gay men are predators and that loving relationships between inherently homosexual people do not exist. So they read the story of Sodom and see a stereotype of what they think all gay people are like. They then assume the story must be a sweeping condemnation of homosexuality, because they assume all homosexuality takes the form shown in this story. In truth, this story is at most a condemnation of homosexual rape. And, as other Scriptures affirm, it is more generally a condemnation of the mistreatment of those who are most vulnerable, including strangers.

Romans 1:21-28 clearly shows Apostle Paul condemning idol worshippers and God haters. According to Paul, these “God haters” experiment with gay sex only as a way of seeking new thrills or in cultic worship. Clearly, he is not speaking about innately gay and lesbian people, who love God and want to honor God while living with integrity as who they are. If we should follow the passage, step-by-step, one would discover that Paul is moving through a logical progression. He is talking about people who:

  • Refused to acknowledge and glorify God. (v. 21)
  • Began worshipping idols (images of created things, rather than the Creator). (v. 23)
  • Were more interested in earthly pursuits than spiritual pursuits. (v. 25)
  • Gave up their natural, i.e., innate, passion for the opposite sex in an unbounded search for pleasure. (v. 26-27)
  • Lived lives full of covetousness, malice, envy, strife, slander, disrespect for parents, pride, and hatred of God. (v.29-31)

The model of homosexual behavior Paul was addressing here is explicitly associated with idol worship probably temple prostitution, and with people who, in an unbridled search for pleasure or because of religious rituals associated with their idolatry, broke away from their natural sexual orientation; participating in promiscuous sex with anyone available. There are, no doubt modern people engage in homosexual sex for reasons similar to those identified in Romans 1. If someone began with a clear heterosexual orientation, but rejected God and began experimenting with gay sex simply as a way of experiencing a new set of pleasures, then this passage may apply to that person. But this is not the experience of the vast majority of gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. There are hundreds of gay people who tell stories of struggling with their same-sex attractions while diligently serving God. These are not idolaters, people who hated God and pursued their own desire for new and greater sexual thrills. These are lovers of God who, nevertheless, have been attracted to people of the same sex from early in life. They are innate (i.e. natural) homosexuals.

For example, in 1 Corinthians chapter 11, the Apostle Paul says women should wear a veil when praying. He also says they should have long hair. Here are two rather simple, straightforward rules announced in the New Testament. How should we interpret them? Some Christians have tried to interpret them without any reference to the cultural context in which the Apostle Paul spoke. So they require their women to have a covering over their head and maintain hair that is shoulder length or longer. But others who have studied this text bearing in mind the cultural context of this passage, would agree with me that in Paul’s time only prostitutes wore short hair and appeared in public unveiled. If this is true, then the likely meaning of Paul’s ruling changes radically from an absolute command to one that was meant to address a problem unique to the culture of the time; which is women who wore short hair or appeared unveiled in public could easily be mistaken for prostitutes. Today, even most conservative Christians do not require their women to wear head coverings or to keep their hair long. They take this position even though the words of the Bible specifically say women should do so. They refrain from imposing these requirements because they understand that the meaning of words is determined largely by the context in which they are spoken.

Therefore, Paul simply does not address the model of stable, loving homosexual relationships among people of faith. It might be fair to ask, “If Paul had known some people are innately homosexual and if he had been aware of stable, loving gay relationships among devout people of faith, would he still have disapproved?” However, any answer we came up with would be fanciful speculation, because the fact is Paul did not address this issue in his letter to the Romans. He was addressing a different set of facts and, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, issued a ruling applicable to those facts.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9 there is a reference to “effeminate” persons, which is often viewed as directed to gay men. The Greek word translated effeminate in verse 9 is quite broad. The word is “malakoi” and literally means “soft”. Does this suffix that Paul was referring to soft people as not fit for God`s Kingdom. This common Greek word had different connotations depending on the context in which it was used. In terms of morality, it generally referred to something like laziness, decadence, or lack of courage. The connotation was of being “soft like a woman”. Bearing in mind the patriarchal culture of the time, women were thought to be weaker than men, more fearful, more vulnerable, and vainer. Thus, men who ate too much, liked expensive things, lazy or liked to dress well were considered “soft like a woman.” Although this type of misogynistic thinking is intolerable in our modern society, it was common in ancient times and explains why the King James Version translated malakoi as “effeminate.” Paul wasn’t condemning men who swish and carry purses, he was condemning a type of moral weakness.

The ancient Roman and Greek understanding of what it meant to be manly or womanly was quite different from today. First-century Romans didn’t think of effeminacy as merely a homosexual trait. In that culture, any man who was more interested in pleasure than in duty was considered to be woman-like. And men who worked to make themselves more attractive, whether they were trying to attract men or women, were called effeminate. Malakoi may further refer specifically to male prostitutes, who would have served as the receptive partner (soft, woman-like) in sexual intercourse. This translation is reflected in two of the most widely used modern English translations of the Bible, the New International Version and the New Revised Standard Version. Since malakoi was used to refer to men who exhibited the negative traits associated with women in first-century culture, it’s not hard to see how the term might also be used to refer to male prostitutes. They would be viewed as sexually indulgent (a trait associated with women) and as the ones who played a receptive role in intercourse (again, associated with women). Because here Paul uses malakoi in a list of sexual sins, it is possible to infer that he may have been referring specifically to male prostitutes, rather than soft men in general.

Regardless of whether Paul intended to refer specifically to male prostitutes or more generally to all men considered morally soft, it is apparent that the term malakoi has nothing to do with the subject matter. The question here is whether same-sex couples may live in loving, committed relationships with the blessing of God. The term malakoi does not address that.

The next key phrase as “abusers of themselves with mankind.” A similar phrase appeared in a list of sins in I Timothy 1:10. Both phrases are derived from a single Greek word, arsenokoitai, which is quite rare. Because the word is so rare, its exact meaning is probably lost forever. Arsenokoitai is a combination of two existing words, one meaning “bed” and referring to sex, and another meaning “male.” There are hundreds of Greek writings from this period that refer to homosexual activity, using terms other than arsenokoitai. If Paul had intended to refer generally to homosexual sex, or to one of the partners in gay-male sex, he had other commonly-used, well-known words at his disposal. He wouldn’t have had to resort to this ambiguous compound word, which future generations would find difficult to translate. Apparently Paul was trying to refer to some more obscure type of behavior.

Most of the times when arsenokoitai is used in early Greek literature, it occurs in a list of sins. For example, in 1 Corinthians 6, we find it between malakoi (which may refer to male prostitutes) and “thieves.” In I Timothy 1:10, the word appears between “fornication” and “slave traders.” This is consistent with the meaning that arsenokoitai describes a male who aggressively takes sexual advantage of another male. Examples of this type of behavior would include a man who rapes another (as in the Sodom story) or a man who uses economic power to buy sex from a male prostitute who sells his body to survive. The New Revised Standard Version translates arsenokoitai as “sodomite.” As we have already seen, the men of Sodom were the ultimate example of sexual aggression and oppression. Even the New International Version, in 1 Corinthians 6 translated the term as “homosexual offender,” suggesting that to commit the sin referred to here, one must use homosexuality in an aggressive or offensive way.

If Leviticus 20:13 was written in the context of cultic sexual practices, including temple prostitutes. In Romans, we saw that Paul was addressing homosexual behavior that occurred in similar cultic situations, where people had abandoned the one true God to worship pagan idols. If Paul derived the term arsenokoitai from Leviticus 20:13, it would follow that Leviticus 20 and Romans 1 would provide the best evidence of the type of homosexual behavior he was intending to prohibit, i.e., cultic sexual practices. It is impossible to know whether Paul was intending to refer to Leviticus 20 or was using the term arsenokoitai more broadly to refer to a man who aggressively forces himself on another.  It is not necessary to resolve the question. It is sufficient to note that Paul’s terminology does not address the type of behavior between two people of the same sex who love each other dearly and live in committed relationship.

Jude 7 talks about a first century Jewish legend, that the women of Sodom had sex with male angels. Since it is about heterosexual sex between angels and humans, it clearly has nothing to do with gay relationships.

With the above submission, it could be seen that none of the six traditional negative verses used to discriminate homosexuality have nothing to say about monogamous same sex loving relationship. For what it’s worth, it condemns gang rape, sexual cultic idol worship, male temple prostitution, using economic strength to obtain sex by force or willfully and men who rapes another. There had been an aged misconception and misinterpretation of these verses that Christians have grown to believe and preached this scriptures without bothering to examine the context of the words and message imbedded therein.

I, humbly pray that God of our Lord Jesus Christ who is Truth may open the eyes of your understanding to discern what the spirit is saying to the Church and to this Ministry. Long Live Praise Creations International.