For the Bible tells me so

Heading west

danielle-hilborn_online

There’s a catchy phrase you may have seen on posters at Pride: “Ruth loved Naomi as Adam loved Eve” — a vastly superior phrase, it should be noted, to “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” This phrase refers to two women in the Old Testament, Ruth and Naomi. Ruth is integral to Christianity, as she is one of the women in Christ’s bloodline, a foremother. Ruth was Naomi’s daughter-in-law. Eventually Naomi’s husband and two sons died — leaving her, Ruth and Orpah, the other daughter-in-law, as the only family. Naomi urges her daughter-in-laws to move on, but Ruth vehemently refuses and “clings” to Naomi. The Hebrew word here is “dabaq,” the same term that appears in Genesis’ description of how a man leaves his mother to cling (dabaq) to his wife. Ruth declares that she will not leave, she will follow Naomi until death parts them. She doesn’t add a “no homo.”

Naomi ceases to object to Ruth’s insistence and the two women remain together. A woman, one whom Christ himself would be tied to, chose to cling to another woman — just as Adam clung to Eve.

Genesis tells the story of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. God decides to up the stakes and destroy Sodom for its wickedness. Like the hero in your section that wins the GSI over, Abraham asks God for mercy in the event that there are even 10 righteous men in the city. So God send three investigators in the form of angels (because nothing about this was going to be lowkey).

The angels were graciously received (the right response for Mcfreakin’ heavenly hosts). Shortly thereafter, a mob of men appeared at the house and demanded that Lot release the men so that they could have sex with (“know”) them. Lot refuses and tries to offer his daughters instead — which, ugh, no we don’t have time for the implications of that. The mob rejects this offer and forces entry to the house. The angels then declare the experiment as over. Sodom is to be destroyed.

Sodom — yes, as in sodomy and sodomite — became a symbol in Christian tradition for the depravity and punishment of that “lifestyle.” Sodomy laws in the United States tended to specifically target gay male relationships. There were anti-sodomy laws throughout the states as recently as 14 years ago, when Lawrence v. Texas finally struck down Texas’ sodomy laws.

I was 7 years old, and same-sex intercourse was still illegal.

Despite the Church’s hardline stance on homosexuality, there are relatively few passages in the Bible that condemn gay and lesbian relationships. There are five mentions in total — two in the Old Testament and three in the New Testament. Sodom and Gomorrah is one. Leviticus 18 and 20 prohibit man from lying with man as he would with a woman. (Technically men shouldn’t try to have sex with each other the way they would with women because it wouldn’t work, y’know, logistically.)  

The New Testament verses are more ambiguous as they were written to specific communities and also tended to involve a joint condemnation of the pagan practices that were wrapped up in these acts, leaving it unclear whether the “sin” was the relationship or the paganism. Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, and 1 Timothy 1 all claim sexually immoral people and men who engage in homosexual acts won’t inherit the Kingdom of God. The analysis of these passages is consciously over-simplified, as the vagueness in the language used involves complicated theological concepts that would take longer to reconcile. (It can be reconciled, however.)

So, that leaves us with Sodom and Gomorrah. A surface reading gleans the interpretation that the city was destroyed after a group of men demanded to have sex with other men, leading to the reading that that was the sin. However, this was not the case. The angels did not declare that Sodom would be destroyed when the men demanded to have sex with them, the angels declared that Sodom would be destroyed after a group of men forced entry into a home in an effort to force themselves onto other men, to rape them.

And yeah. Rape is a sin.

I don’t know why those five passages were written. I don’t know who they were meant for or why. I know they’ve caused a lot of hurt and destruction. And I know they don’t fit into any other aspect of religion as I know it. They don’t fit with the way Ruth loved Naomi. And they don’t fit with the way I love.

Danielle writes the Thursday column on finding your home. Contact her at [email protected].

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  • Tom_in_SFCA

    The Bible tells a story and that story is about Jesus. God created the universe for a purpose and Jesus is the key to our living according to God’s purpose for us. Every possible human act is either right or wrong depending on whether it is Godly, whether it fulfills God’s purpose. Homosexuality is contrary to the Bible. Homosexual acts do not fulfill God’s purposes for us. People should turn away from homosexuality and turn toward Jesus. Confess you need Jesus, ask Jesus to save you from death, believe in Jesus’ power to do so, and you will be saved.

  • ESPM360

    Despite the Church’s hardline stance on homosexuality,…………It was Catholic nuns who cared and showed compassion for Aids patients when almost no one else would.

  • Usb Cable

    First of all, your utterly delusional reading of the Bible is completely preposterous, as you well know. Saying that the Bible only condemns your homosexual death-style a few times is like saying it only condemns murder a few times. The Bible is utterly unequivocal in condemning your sterile, dead-end, death-style of homosexuality. Do you really think you’re fooling anyone with your pathetic attempt at logic?

    But more importantly, why are you so desperate to have everybody and every book ever written agree with your homosexuality? Why do you feel the need to force other people to agree with what the vast, vast majority of people on the planet find disgusting? Why do you feel this need to violate other people’s beliefs and try to force them to agree with you? Have you ever asked yourself this question?

    • Jorge Carolinos

      The bible is a bunch internally incoherent gibberish best ignored.

  • Nunya Beeswax

    “Dabaq” is used in lots of other contexts as well–to describe the tongue cleaving to the roof of the mouth (Ps 22:15), the sons of Israel holding to the inheritance of the tribe of their fathers (Num 36:7), and clinging to the Lord your God (Deut 10:20). All these uses and shades of meaning have in common the concept of closeness; we don’t have any positive indication that Ruth and Naomi had a romantic or sexual relationship, and interpreting it as such says far more about the exegete than the text.

    Regarding the exegesis of St Paul’s letters, I find it interesting that there was very little uncertainty about what they meant until same-sex relationships became more socially acceptable. It’s not as though Christianity went to sleep for 2000 years and just now woke up; there is a whole reception history of these texts which is very easy to trace, and there is absolutely no doubt in the minds of Christians of late antiquity as to what words like arsenokoitai and malakoi mean–leading me to suspect that whatever uncertainty now exists has been carefully manufactured.