Sunday, June 8, 2014

Naturally, Romans 1

Now comes the fun part of this series: The New Testament.

In my last post I talked about Leviticus and how we need to be careful how we view the Old Covenant in regards to Christianity today.

Now we're gonna start digging our teeth into the real bread and butter of the gay Christian debate.

Romans 1:26-27:
"Because of this God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error."

For a lot of people, this verse is the closing argument against gay relationships and can not in any way be proven otherwise.

I want to remind everyone that this blog I created is not to change your belief or your opinion of the Bible itself. I've stated before that I believe the Bible is the true Word of God and should be used as an absolute guide for Christian's lives. I'm simply trying to shed some light on how tricky interpretations can get, how important context is, and how little time people actually spend studying key verses.

I'm not in any way trying to disprove the Bible, I'm simply doing my best to create an educated answer and interpretation that I believe God is trying to share with me.

That being said, lets talk about Romans 1.

To give a little background, these particular verses are included in a letter written by Paul to the early churches of Rome. In the verses leading up to 26 and 27, Paul talks about the evilness of mankind, and some of the wicked things people are doing. Let's start there. To truly understand what Paul is referring to, I think it's crucial that we know in detail what Paul's world looked like.

One example in Brownson's book Bible Gender Sexuality is referring to a very prominent character in Roman life: Gaius Caligula, the emperor who was in power not long before Paul's letter to the Romans. Neil Elliot, author of The Arrogance of Nations: Reading Romans in the Shadow of an Empire points out that everyone to whom Paul was writing would have certainly known the story of this man and the details of his life. After studying the language in the Bible and the language used in early works detailing Caligula's life, Elliot notices several similarities that certainly cannot be brushed under the table. Because they are so strikingly similar, one wonders if this isn't specifically what Paul was referring to without mentioning it.

To give a very, very brief history of Gaius Caligula, he was a horrible emperor who was closely linked to adultery, out-of-control lust, lived in incest, and raped countless men, women, and children who served under him. There are many accounts of him engaging in violent same-sex behavior. Remember my blog post about Sodom? I discussed how men in ancient times would use sexual intercourse with other men to humiliate and dominate them. This is reflected to a T in the story of Caligula, who, by the way, was married to a woman. One specific example was when he raped his military officer. This officer then joined a conspiracy to murder him, which happened four years into his reign. It is recorded that Gaius was stabbed in the genitals.

Brownson writes:
"One wonders if we can hear an echo of this gruesome story in Paul's comments in Romans 1:27: "men committed shameless acts with other men and received in their own person the due penalty for their error." Gaius Caligula graphically illustrates the reality of which Paul speaks in Roman 1: the movement from idolatry to insatiable lust to every form of depravity, and the violent murderous reprisal that such behavior engenders."

I recently watched a sermon given by gay-affirming pastor Danny Cortez, who goes into detail about this story of Gaius and its connection to Romans 1.



Pastor Danny stresses the importance of historical context by comparing this to the Clinton scandal. If someone were to write to the church in detail about having relations with an intern and then lying about it, everyone would know what he was referring to, and why it was wrong. Does that mean no one should ever have any type of relationship with an intern? No. It means that the specific events and details of this story are an example of turning from God and letting our own sinful nature take over.

If Paul is referring in any way to the story of Gaius Caligula, he is certainly referring to insatiable lust and dominance when he refers to "men committing shameless acts with each other." There is still no concept of same-sex committed, loving, respectful relationships.

Now that we have some historical context of what Paul's world looked like, lets talk about the concept of "nature."

Many people like Robert Gagnon love to talk about this word in regards to human sexuality. They use verses 26 and 27:

"...women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones...men abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another."

As stated above, this is almost certainly not referring to the same sex relationships we see now-a-days, because of the obvious connotation of insatiable lust and passion and the historical context of same-sex relations at that time (slave owners, men and young boys, emperors and military officers, temple prostitution, etc.)

So what about nature? (See my early blog post Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve to learn more about human design).

Paul uses the word "nature" more than once in his letters [Strong's Number G5449 matches the Greek φύσις (physis)].

1 Corinthians 11:13-15 where he is instructing women to cover their heads:
"Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory?"

The words "nature" and "disgrace", as Matthew Vines points out in his book God and the Gay Christian, are the same words used to describe the same-sex behavior in Romans 1.

Is Paul suggesting that hair does not naturally grow? Wouldn't everyone have long hair if we were trying to live as naturally as possible?

Why don't we follow the 1 Corinthians rules anymore? Because it is widely regarded as referring to a customary practice of that day. Paul is God's middle man remember? It's his job to spread the Word of God while trying to make Christians look good and behave in their societies. Perhaps if the Bible were written NOW it would say things like "Don't text and drive. Don't spend hundreds of dollars on make-up." How can anyone take the teachings of the Bible seriously without understanding the world it was written in (where there is no mention of respectful same-sex relationships)?

COME ON PEOPLE.

My last point is very simple, but very relevant. In Romans 1 Paul talks of people "exchanging" one thing for another, right? They knew God, but worshipped idols, they claimed to be wise, but became fools, exchanged their natural relations for unnatural.

Paul is saying they knew in their hearts what was right and who they were, and yet they "exchanged" these things for something else, something unnatural to them, and that was a terrible sin. For gay people, same-sex attraction is natural. Trying to marry a man would be just as unnatural to me as it would be to a straight man. Perhaps all those years I spent trying to be attracted to the opposite sex was an insult to God. He clearly made me this way for a reason, and I would hate to "exchange" that or force someone else to live unnaturally, which is exactly what many Christians are trying to do.

Thanks for sticking through this post. To sum up my points:

  • The history of the Ancient world shows us that Paul's letter to the Romans certainly could have been referring to events such as Gaius Caligula's evil reign and "deserved" death.
  • There is still no mention of loving, committed same-sex relations in these passages (they are only referred to in the context of violence, excessive lust, and passion).
  •  The word "natural" is also used by Paul to describe hair length on men (men should have short hair, even though the word "natural" as Christians use it today, would suggest hair to "naturally" grow long)
  • If we are truly talking about nature and not exchanging truth for lies, gay people should be able to love who they choose, because that is the "natural" way God created them



Monday, May 19, 2014

Lying with men

Hey everybody!

We left off on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. After a little digging we discovered the story is about gang rape and power, nothing relevant to the topic at hand.

One verse down, five to go. Going in order, the next two verses are Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.

“’Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination."
and 20:13
"..if a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death"

I’ve heard many variations of these verses, usually being quoted by my old high school classmates who probably couldn’t even tell you what book they're from.

The book is Leviticus, and it’s in the Old Testament. 

One important thing I’d like to point out is the difference between the old law and the new law: The Old Testament and the New Testament.

The Old Testament or old law contains 613 rules that God gave the Israelites. As more Gentiles began to convert to Christianity, there was a lot of debate over whether or not they should also have to follow the 600 plus rules.

In Acts 15 we see this unfold. The Council of Jerusalem was a group of early church leaders who decided in the year 49 AD that the Old Law would not be binding on new Gentile believers. For example, the rules regarding what Christians should eat, whether they should be circumcised, etc.

Paul, our favorite Bible dude, also had a lot to say about the place of the Old Law in our new Christian lives:

In Galatians 5 he refers to the old law as a "yolk of slavery" that we are not to be burdened by any more.
Romans 10:4 says "Christ is the end of the law."
Hebrews 8:13 says the covenant is obsolete, because Christ is the new covenant thus freeing us from the old system of the law.

Okay, so that aspect already makes it kind of hard to argue the relevance of two verses in the Old Testament.
However, not everything in the Old Testament can be disregarded as irrelevant.
The 10 commandments, for example, are widely believed to apply to today’s Christians.

So what we are looking at NOW is the difference between what Torn author Justin Lee so eloquently labels "cultural laws" and "moral laws".

Chapter 18 of Leviticus, where these particular verses are found, is a list of rules regarding sexual behavior. The important question we must ask ourselves regarding these verses is “which rules are cultural laws, and which rules are moral laws?” Or “Which rules were made for ritualistic practices that are done away with in Christ, and which rules are meant to continue through all time as a guide for Christians?” 

There is no where in the Bible that talks about the distinction between these two types of rules. Of course they exist, because barely twenty verses away in Leviticus is the rule that you may not plant two types of seeds in your field or wear clothes made from two types of fabric. (Leviticus 19:19)
Look at the tag on your shirt.

You should be ashamed of yourself.

……..

Obviously we don’t follow many of the rules in Leviticus. So why do so many people think we should follow these?

One reason is because it is right next to rules about incest. We still follow those rules, so why not the one about men lying with men?

Incest, adultery, and bestiality are sexual taboos that are spoken of many times in the Bible, both in the Old and New Testament. Male same-sex prohibitions only appear in Leviticus, surrounded by rules we no longer consider part of our Christian duty to follow.

But they call it an abomination, and the penalty is death! It HAS to be relevant!

The word "abomination" is found 76 times in the KJV Bible (according to blueletterbible.org).
Here are just a few of the many things referred to as an "abomination" in the Old Law:

  • contact with a woman on her period
  • eating shellfish
  • eating pork
  • eating rabbit
  • women wearing pants

And other things that require the death penalty:
  • working on the Sabbath
  • charging interest on a loan

I think it's also important to note here that many of the rules in the Old Law were created based on the condition of the ancient world. For example, the rules about cleanliness were probably given because disease and sickness were prevalent and hard to treat. "Spilling a man's seed" is a sin according to the Bible, because of course at that time, populating the Earth was of extreme importance. Perhaps the warnings against male-male intercourse have to do with the fact that diseases would spread, no children would come of it, and in the patriarchal world of Bible times, men playing the passive "female role" in sex was unthinkable.

And finally, I have a method that really helps me discern what is cultural and what is moral.
Look at the repercussions of the "sin." What are the consequences, and do they ultimately result in the glory of God?

In a nutshell: Is it hurting people?

Luke 6:43 
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit."


Going back to the incest discussion, there is obvious harm done when these lines are crossed. Obvious "bad fruit". It is damaging to relationships, and affects the entire family. It can also be genetically damaging if the relationships produce children, etc.

But look at gay relationships. I'm not talking about prostitution, sex slaves, or any other immoral sexual relationship two men often had during Bible times (although historically that is probably what these Leviticus verses are talking about). I'm talking about two people who fall in love and are committed to God and to each other. What bad fruit will come from that? "Undermining the American family"? I think it's a little too late. Heteros messed that up on their own. 

But the consequences of NOT letting two people in love get married? Heartache, depression, isolation, even suicide in some cases.

So while it seems very easy to throw out the line "man shall not lie with man," it's pretty clear that the meaning is not so easy. The Old Law is a tricky business, because of how many rules we are no longer required to follow. The placement of these particular verses and the language used do not add any weight to the argument that they are still valid in today's homosexual relationships, especially when it is only directly addressed in Leviticus.

I took some of the examples and ideas for this post from Matthew Vines' video (click here), where he addresses ALL of the verses in a very organized and effective way. I recommend everyone watch it!

And if you still think this is all a load of bologna, at least take this away from my blog:

Matthew 22:37-40
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
  
I'm excited to begin studying the New Testament verses. Stay tuned, we're just getting started! 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

SodoMIGHT wanna check again

First of all, let me apologize for my month-long break from blogging. I've always been very silent about my faith, and after my blog reached 4000 hits I was feeling a little over-exposed and overwhelmed.

However, taking this break has not been sitting well with me. There is so much to be done and so much to learn regarding this issue, and I'm reminded of it every single day.

That's why I'm back! (Are you all saying YAY right now?)

As a reminder, I'm using www.blueletterbible.org for all of the original translations and study tools. Never take my word for anything.

I'm going to go in chronological order of the six gay-condemning verses, which means I'm starting with Sodom and Gomorrah.

In case you haven't read it, it's in Genesis 19.

To summarize, two angels dressed as men arrive at the city of Sodom, and are greeted by a man named Lot. Lot is a super nice dude who offers to let them stay with him and feed them a meal. The angels agree to go home with him. As they are getting ready for bed, ALL of the men in the city, "both young and old," surround Lot's house and say, "bring the men out so that we can have sex with them!" As the angry mob is trying to break the door down, the angels strike them all with blindness. After this, the city of Sodom is destroyed.

Alright, so that sounds pretty gay right? Men wanting to have sex with men?

Scholars on both sides of the argument have widely agreed that this story is not about homosexuality at all. I'm not even sure how one would argue that the sin of Sodom includes homosexuality after doing a little research.

But because many Christians are deathly allergic to critical thinking, I'll help you out.

This story is about two foreigners entering a city and not being welcome. It's clear this city doesn't do very well with visitors because they angrily call them "foreigners" and threaten them with gang rape.

Yes. Gang rape. That is what this story is about.

In ancient times, it was a common practice for men to rape other men to show their power over them and "defeat" their enemies. The idea was to humiliate and dominate.

Here are a few things that support the notion that this story is about power rather than male-male sex for pleasure: 

1. As Justin Lee points out in his book Torn, it makes more sense that these men were participating in an ancient practice of domination rather than the entire male population of the city being gay (let's be real, if they were all gay, they'd be a lot nicer).

2. The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah are brought up 20 different times in the Bible, and there is not one mention of homosexuality.

Ezekiel 16:49
"'Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy."

 3. Being hospitable was something that people of ancient times took very very seriously. In the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot even offers up his own virgin daughters so that the two men he has taken under his roof will be spared. Which goes along with point 1, if it were true that EVERY man in the city, young and old, were flaming homosexuals, why would Lot offer his daughters to try to satisfy them? Maybe he didn't know he was living in a gay city...

The main sin of Sodom and Gomorrah is widely accepted as being inhospitable and unwelcoming to guests.

So while this story is the reason Christian's call homosexuals "sodomites," a look closer shows that it is absolutely not relevant and holds no weight in the discussion of committed, loving, gay relationships.

To be clear, I'm still against gang rape.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

It's not the 1950's anymore

If I were following the six "gay condemning" verses in order, like I said I was going to do, I would go on to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. However, because of recent events in the Kansas legislature, I feel it necessary to post something more relevant.

This is such an exciting time to be a young gay person in America. A few months ago I had the opportunity to march around our capitol building in Springfield alongside hundreds of other LGBT people and allies (the picture below). That experience was truly life-changing, reminding me of other historic turning points like women's suffrage and the abolition of slavery. Thankfully, Illinois passed the marriage equality law, allowing gay couples the right to marry and my experience to be even more rewarding.


So that's good for Illinois! Unfortunately, quite the opposite is happening in Kansas.

For those of you who don't know, the house in Kansas passed House Bill 2453, stating that if it goes against someone's religious beliefs concerning gay people/marriage, no one is required to:

"(a) Provide any services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods, or privileges; provide counseling, adoption, foster care and other social services; or provide employment or employment benefits, related to, or related to the celebration of, any marriage, domestic partnership, civil union or similar arrangement;"

It still has to pass the senate and be signed by the governor, but because the senate is majority ruled by republicans, and the governor is very conservative, it is expected to pass. If you want to see the full bill, it's amazingly short, so click here and give it a read.

Here we are, back in the 1950's, living in a segregated world, deciding who can eat at what restaurant.

Not only is this in absolute violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment, it completely goes against the teachings of the Bible:

Mark 12:31
"The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.'”

Matthew 7:12
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets."

Christians can be some of the most un-Christian people in the world.

For me, I can't help but think of the parallels with the abolitionist movement of the 1800's.

Countless Christians were against the abolition of slavery and used scripture to defend their position that owning another human being was, indeed, fine and biblical.

And why wouldn't they? According to blueletterbible.org, slavery appears 834 times in the Old Testament and 130 times in the New Testament (ebed and doulos). Not a single one of these almost 1000 verses is condemning the practice. There were rules regarding slaves, and of course the Bible tells slave owners to treat them well, but there is no notion in the entire Bible that hints at slavery eventually ending. Because it was the norm, abolition was not something the authors considered or could possibly foresee in their future (just like the internet, technology, etc.). Most of the verses are simply stating the fact that many people in the Bible had slaves and here are some interesting examples:

Leviticus 22:11
But if a priest buys a slave with money, or if slaves are born in his household, they may eat his food.

Wow. How nice.

John 8:35
Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.

Ephesians 6:5
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.

Obviously I'm not condoning slavery. Recently Christians have come to a consensus that owning another human being is simply not Christlike and no longer applicable to modern times. Of course, not ALL Christians agreed on this drastic change in thinking, and they had some pretty strong Biblical backing.

"Every hope of the existence of church and state, and of civilization itself, hangs upon our arduous effort to defeat the doctrine of Negro suffrage."
—Robert Dabney, a prominent 19th century Southern Presbyterian pastor
"[Slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God...it is sanctioned in the Bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation...it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization, and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts."

           —Jefferson Davis, President, Confederate States of America

The translation of the word "slave" or "servant" in the Bible (according to blueletterbible.org/Vine's Dictionary) is "originally the lowest term in the scale of servitude, came also to mean 'one who gives himself up to the will of another.'" There is very little room for interpretation here. The Bible is, I think we can agree, talking about one human owning and controlling another human, which is obvious if you read the 900+ verses.

It seems pretty straightforward.

In contrast, the word that is used for "men who have sex with men" in the list of vices stated in 1 Corinthians is much more difficult to translate.

1 Corinthians 6:9
Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men...

In several versions of the Bible the word "homosexual" is actually used here, even though that word wasn't even coined until the 1800's. The Greek word to describe "men who have sex with men" is arsenokoites. This word is used a total of two times in the entire Bible. The other use is in 1 Timothy 1:10, also written by Paul, basically echoing the 1 Corinthians verse. The word can not be found in any other literature of that time, so scholars believe Paul was the first person to use it.

Let's break the word apart: arsen means "man" and koite means "bed." Okay, so definitely something involving men that probably has a sexual connotation. There has been MUCH debate over what the actual meaning of this word is, and for good reason--Paul says they aren't going to inherit the kingdom of God!

A few interesting facts about the word's Biblical translation throughout the years:

-Martin Luther's 1545 German translation uses the word "Knabenschänder" (from "Knaben", boys or young children), which implies that "arsenokoites" was interpreted as pedophilia as early as the 16th century.

-A modern German translation uses "Kinder sexuell missbrauchen" ("to abuse children sexually").

-The 1649 Giovanni Deodati Bible in Italian says "quelli che usano co' maschi." The term "maschi" can refer either to men or boys, but has a more general sense of boys, as in the traditional Italian expression "Auguri e figli maschi" (literally, "Congratulations and may you have many male children.")

And here's an interesting point from James Brownson in Bible, Gender, Sexuality:

"Many interpreters also note a third term, which appears next to arsenokoites in 1 Timothy 1:10: andropodistes. Literally, the word means "slave-dealer" or "kidnapper." A number of revisionist interpreters have connected this word to the ancient sex trade, where young boys were captured, castrated, and sold to be used as sexual slaves. These and many other revisionist interpreters argue that the negative portrayal of these abusive ancient practices cannot be used to justify the condemnation of consensual, committed, and loving same-sex unions today."  

My point is this: There are two major problems with using this verse to condemn homosexuality. Problem 1 is that the actual translation is VERY unclear and has a lot of room for interpretation (unlike the 900+ verses on slavery).

Which brings us to Problem 2: Even if the translation was straightforward and clear, it's important to look at the historical context and realize these ancient situations may not be applicable or similar to modern times.It clearly does not go along with the teachings of the Bible that simply tell us to love our neighbors and treat everyone in the same way we wish to be treated.

To break it down, I've created a chart on how the church has changed it's thinking regarding just a few controversial issues that make a certain group of people less important.

Slavery:
Word: doulos in Greek and ebed in Hebrew
Mentioned: almost 1000 times in the Old and New Testament
Definition/examples: "the lowest term in the scale of servitude, came also to mean 'one who gives himself up to the will of another.'" Mathew 25:30, John 8:35, Titus 2:9 Ephesians 6:5
Early views: Slavery was a good and necessary thing.
Debate: In-depth research, extensive arguments
Recent views: It is not Christlike for one human to own another.

Women being inferior to men:
Word: ishshah and gyne 
Mentioned: over 20 times in the Old and New Testament (in regards to being inferior to men)
Definition/examples: It is shameful for women to speak in church, men are heads of households, men have control over their wives, etc. 1 Timothy 2:11, Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18.
Early views: Women are inferior to men and not permitted to teach.
Debate: In-depth research, extensive argument
Recent views: Women are equal to men and encouraged to teach.

Men having sex with men:
Word: arsenokoites
Mentioned: twice in the New Testament
Definition/examples: Definition unclear. 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 6:10
Early views: They will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Debate: Little research and debate in comparison to women and slavery
Recent views: They will not inherit the kingdom of God (no change).

Although the Supreme Court will never allow House Bill 2453 to actually become law, it's very interesting to see how hard Christians will fight to hold on to what they believe the Bible says, even when it goes against the entire theme of the Bible to be loving, non-judgmental, and welcoming to ALL of God's children.

Perhaps a change of heart (and theology) is on the horizon for the church again. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve

Let's do a quick recap of all the things I hope you've learned from my previous blog posts:
I'm gay.
I'm a Christian.
I was born this way.
I am fine with it.
I believe God is fine with it.

If you didn't know all of these, I have failed as a blogger (or maybe you just can't read).

So that's all fine and dandy, but now you're all wondering how in the world I could ever read those six passages in the Bible and still feel confident in who I am and who God created me to be.

So I want to start digging into these six verses and see what I can find. I encourage you to do the same. I will be using a website called blueletterbible.org which is a very handy Bible study tool. It has the verse you search for, and for every word there is a translation, a definition, cross references, and some other tools.

That being said, I will be documenting everything I learn, but I challenge you to do your own study. It's fun and very simple.

I guess the best place to start is, well, the beginning. Genesis, where God in all of His mighty power created everything from absolute nothingness. And then He created man, and for man He created woman, and both were made in His image.

THERE YOU HAVE IT. Done. He created ONE man and ONE woman and they were made for each other and God told them to fill the earth and subdue it. How can anyone argue and say this is not God's design for us?

Let's dissect Genesis verse by verse right before Eve comes into the picture...

Genesis 2:18:  
The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

The word helper in Hebrew is `ezer and it means "fellow worker." 'ezer is used 22 times in the Old Testament and is most often used to describe God as our helper. Ok, so no argument there about whether it should specifically be a female. Let's keep going.

Genesis 2:19
Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

I love this passage. I picture God pushing each animal towards Adam and encouraging him to be creative and call them what he wants. Of course, God could have easily picked names for His creations (they were, after all, HIS) but I think it's important to note here that God is giving Adam freedom and control. That's how much God respects and loves the human He created.

Genesis 2:20
So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

Here I picture God pushing the animals towards Adam, and after they are named, God raising His eyebrows at Adam, who shakes his head because he didn't find them "suitable." Just like God let Adam name the animals and rule over them, it would make sense that God also gave Adam the freedom to choose his own helper. If God had never intended for Adam to have a say in it, the phrase "no suitable helper was found" would be utterly pointless. God would have simply created woman from the start.

Genesis 2:21-23
So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”

This is where I get very confused by traditionalist arguments. "SEE?" they say, "God made ONE man and ONE woman."

Well...duh. He made billions of MEN and billions of WOMEN. These are his two special treasures that He holds above all the other beasts in the world. There are many different variations of men and women, but these are the two generic prototypes for every human that has ever lived. And they were both made equally in God's image.

Then why did God create for Adam a woman, and not another man?

Because Adam was straight! Like most men in our world, a woman is what he desired and wanted as a life long "helper." If Adam were gay, maybe God would have made him another man. And then they would be able to reproduce, and our world would be filled with only men (I like the way God did it better). But like I said, these were the two generic prototypes of human beings. God had to start somewhere. He didn't make every race, every height, every eye color all on that one day. These are things that will come from His two special treasures. Adam and Eve represented and encompassed thousands of years and variations of people across time and cultures. If Adam and Eve were created in God's image, I think you can argue that EVERYONE is created in His image, not just the people who are exact replicas of Adam and Eve.

What about God's design for populating the Earth and having babies? Gay couples can't procreate so they must not be in God's design.

OBVIOUSLY God made man and woman able to reproduce, because at that time, they were the only two humans on Earth! How else would any of us be here?

Honestly I think we should all praise God that He didn't make ALL humans able to reproduce. Sure, during Bible times it was of the utmost importance, and I guess I can see why gay couples and infertile women were looked down upon in society. But now, when we are using the world's resources almost 30% faster than they can be produced, I think it's a little less urgent. And quite frankly, we would be in trouble if ALL couples EVERYWHERE were able to have children.

Genesis 2:24
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

The word "united" here in Hebrew is dabaq. It means "to cling to" or "to stay with." Good! I agree that Adam set a good example for all couples who have chosen to commit to each other.


"...and they shall become one flesh." This trips a lot of Christians up. For some reason we are obsessed with the idea that one flesh has some sexual connotation regarding, in Robert Gagnon's words, a "complementarity of the different genders." If we do the TINIEST BIT OF RESEARCH we find really quickly that the word "flesh" here in Hebrew is basar. Which when translated literally means "kinship, blood-relations." We are talking about family here. The same word basar is used 264 times in the Old Testament. Just a few examples:

When Adam meets Eve for the first time and he makes a connection with her that he couldn't make with any of the other animals...

Genesis 2:23
The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”

Genesis 29:14
Then Laban said to him, “You are my own flesh and blood,” (after Jacob had stayed with him for a whole month).

2 Samuel 5:1
All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood."


etc. etc. It doesn't mean cookie cutter straight man/straight woman sex. It means having a relationship with someone that is stronger than friendship, characterized by mutual care, respect, and love. Being each others' "helper." It's hard for Christians to imagine gay people fitting into this plan, but if modern day Christians don't give it much thought (and trust me, most of them don't give it ANY), you can only imagine how far it was from their minds during ancient times when there were fewer people and no internet.

People argue that if homosexuality was okay, there would be more in the Bible about it than just the negative stuff.

That would be a good point if we could prove that the rare, erotic same-sex behavior described in the Bible is also referring to the committed, God-fearing gay couples we see today. But that's a topic for next week.