Daniel A. Helminiak, author of “What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality,” argued last month in a column for CNN that the Bible only condemns homosexuality in cases where “injustice and abuse” are involved and that
Nowhere does the Bible actually oppose homosexuality.
Helminiak goes on:
In the past 60 years, we have learned more about sex, by far, than in preceding millennia. Is it likely that an ancient people, who thought the male was the basic biological model and the world flat, understood homosexuality as we do today? Could they have even addressed the questions about homosexuality that we grapple with today? Of course not.
Hard evidence supports this commonsensical expectation. Taken on its own terms, read in the original languages, placed back into its historical context, the Bible is ho-hum on homosexuality, unless – as with heterosexuality – injustice and abuse are involved.
One of his main points comes from Genesis 19, which retells a story about two angels coming into town and rooming with Lot for the night. The men of Sodom told Lot to release the angels (obviously in the form of men) so that the men could have sex with them. As Helminiak interprets the story:
The Bible itself is lucid on the sin of Sodom: pride, lack of concern for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48-49); hatred of strangers and cruelty to guests (Wisdom 19:13); arrogance (Sirach/Ecclesiaticus 16:8); evildoing, injustice, oppression of the widow and orphan (Isaiah 1:17); adultery (in those days, the use of another man’s property), and lying (Jeremiah 23:12).
But nowhere are same-sex acts named as the sin of Sodom.
Perhaps not explicitly, but Lot was so much against the men’s proposition that he offered his two virgin daughters instead and pleaded with the men:
I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
In any case, he goes on to the New Testament in which Helminiak interprets Paul to have thought about male to male sex as ”dishonorable” or “unseemly” but not outright immoral. Further, he said that
Jesus rejected the purity requirements of the Jewish Law.
While he may be right about Paul’s thoughts on homosexuality — it wasn’t exactly uncommon in those times either — Helminiak is categorically wrong when he says that “nowhere does the Bible oppose homosexuality.” He even referenced one of the passages that unequivocally opposes gay sex. Leviticus 18:22 reads:
22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (KJV)
The very next verse condemns anyone who sleeps with animals, and verses all through the chapter talk about how it’s wrong to sleep with various members of one’s family.
Further, Leviticus 20:13 calls for the execution of anyone who commits homosexual acts:
13 If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.
And once again, this verse is surrounded by others that command the people of Israel not to have sex with their family members, etc., as if it weren’t so obviously wrong that it had to be spelled out.
Later in the same chapter, the writer of Leviticus outlines the nasty consequences that will follow if these actions take place:
22 Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.
So, if the people commit acts such as sleeping with their relatives or with people of the same sex, the earth will regurgitate them. In what “historical contexts” are we supposed to read these passages? I can maybe grant his point about Sodom — those guys were clearly out of line wanting to have sex with the angel-men! — but his blanket statement about homosexuality in the Bible is patently false. The passages above sound like pretty firm prohibitions to me, and not just of the acts themselves, but of the ideas of homosexuality, bestiality and incest, all of which are lumped together in two separate chapters.