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Questions: Bruce, What Do You Think of the Reinterpretation of Bible Verses on Homosexuality?

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I put out the call to readers, asking them for questions they would like me to answer. If you have a question, please leave it here or email me. All questions will be answered in the order in which they are received.

(I use the word homosexual for the sake of answering this question, knowing Evangelicals will be reading my answer. I know it is a derogatory term, as is sodomy/sodomite, used by Fundamentalist Christians, Jews, and Muslims to denigrate LGBTQ people. I rarely use it in my writing.)

Sage asked:

I personally have escaped christianity and do not consider the Christian Bible to have any useful value. But lately I have heard LGBTQ people, who still attend church, saying that the biblical prohibition on homosexuality is a misinterpretation introduced in the 20th century, and prior it was prohibiting pedophilia. What are your thoughts?

Let’s start with Leviticus 18 (in context):

Moreover thou shalt not lie carnally with thy neighbour’s wife, to defile thyself with her.

….

 Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.

Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion.

And Leviticus 20 (in context):

And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them.

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.

And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast.

And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Romans 1:26-27 says:

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature. And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

The Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

The above quotes are from the King James Version of the Bible. It is clear from these verses that the Bible condemns homosexual sex. The Bible does NOT say that being LGBTQ is a sin. It is who a person is fucking (and perhaps how) that determines whether a sex act is sinful. Just because someone is LGBTQ, or heterosexual, for that matter, doesn’t make them a sinner. Certain sex acts do. This same interpretation is borne out in modern translations too.

Our society is far more accepting of LGBTQ people than it ever has been. Progress, right? Even among Evangelicals, we are seeing increasing acceptance of gay people. The Bible hasn’t changed; people have. Thus, to make the Bible fit what people now believe, the aforementioned verses are reinterpreted. Instead of the Bible condemning homosexual sex, revisionists say it condemns incest, sex with children, or sex with prostitutes. However, if these verses are read in context, it is clear that the Bible condemns homosexual sex (and in other places, it also condemns incest, sex with children — sometimes — sex with prostitutes, fornication, and adultery). These reinterpretations are just ways for Christians, Jews, and Muslims to have LGBTQ friends or engage in homosexual sex without feeling guilty about it. Instead of just saying the Bible (God) is wrong or outdated, Christians, Jews, and Muslims make the Bible fit their feelings and beliefs.

The Bible can be used to justify almost anything. Just reinterpret the Hebrew, Greek, or English, and viola! homosexual sex is no longer sinful. This is a sign that the Bible is losing its control over our culture. And all the atheists said, AMEN! What was sin fifty years ago is no longer sin today. Some Evangelicals no longer believe fornication is a sin — hard telling what sins will be reinterpreted or vanquished by Christians in the years to come.

For further information about how the Bible prohibitions on homosexual sex have been reinterpreted, please read the Wiki titled, The Bible and Homosexuality. You might want to take some Tylenol and Aspirin before you do.

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Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

28 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    If someone who considers themselves a Christian and wants to be a decent person decides they need to reinterpret these verses to mean something other than what they obviously mean…I am gonna nod and smile and change the subject. We all need to sleep at night, and for some people, wrestling with an awkward corner of a belief system is easier than wrestling with the whole thing. If you understand that sexual orientations other than the exclusively-straight Biblical model are normal and healthy, if you understand that gender identities other than what people are assigned at birth are normal and healthy, and you want to align that understanding with a belief in a loving God and a Savior…go for it.

    I care that you behave well toward and about the LGBTQ folks on this big lifeboat called Planet Earth, and I really don’t care how you justify that to yourself.

    (Be sure to include the understanding that all sex between consenting adults who are not you and your spouse/partner is Not Your Business, unless one of them is your spouse/partner, the other is not you, and you didn’t sign up to share.)

  2. Avatar
    theologyarchaeology

    Terrible answer but what can you expect from someone who does not believe. Since you cannot receive the spirit of truth it is doubtful that you can answer any question.

    #1. It is not about interpretation as that is subjective and adds confusion to any issue. You have to go for the truth. That is objective and applies to everyone.

    #2. Sin is sin no matter what era the world is in. Unlike science and evolution, the truth never changes. God does not change and what he declared to be sin in Adam’s time is still sin today. it doesn’t matter what the world says, unbelievers and believers cannot declare something a sin.

    #3. Where you may think that the Bible does not say LGBTQ preferences are sin or not doesn’t matter. God doe snot always use the words people want to see in describing what is or isn’t wrong.

    Just watch BG delete this helpful post also.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I texted my editor tonight after publishing this post. “Can’t wait for “Dr.” Tee to check in. “😂😂 And here you are, ready to defend God’s prohibition of anal sex. I’m starting to wonder . . .🍆🍆

      What I’m really interested in, David, is doe snot. 🤣

      That you think your comment is “helpful” just reveals how delusional you are. I’ll leave it to readers to express their gratitude for your “helpfulness.”

      • Avatar
        Neil

        After a lifetime of suppressing who I really am (to please Jesus) I’m now happily and unapologetically gay. I don’t give a flying f**k (though must try that) what the Bible and the likes of ‘Doctor’ Tee say about it.
        Hasn’t Tee noticed that no-one at all has made it into God’s Magic Kingdom due to its failure to materialise 2,000 years ago when Paul and Jesus said it would?

        • Avatar
          Kel

          Hi Neil,

          I can sympathise with you. The uncaring manner in which a lot of Christians treat LGBTQ people leads me to hate myself – I’m not straight either.

          Seeing people like Dr Tee pontificate on this matter without even trying to engage with real people with real lives frustrates me.
          I wonder if these people are willing to sympathise to begin with.

          • Avatar
            BJW

            Kel, I see no evidence that any of these types like Dr T want to sympathize. It’s all about pointing fingers and judgment.

          • Avatar
            Neil

            Kel, you shouldn’t hate yourself. You’re perfect as you are. I know you might not feel it (like me for a lot of life) but once you escape from the nastiness of Christians, you’ll realise you’re exactly how you’re supposed to be. And it’s wonderful.

          • Avatar
            Sage

            Kel, I understand how church people and belief can lead someone to hate themselves. It is something I experienced a non-binary person for many years.

            Just remember, you are not the issue here. It is the narrow minded, exclusionary nature of christianity that causes this the issue. Realistically, christians fall far short of the very standards they preach, but have no problem judging, and tearing down, those who they view as unrepentant sinners. You see a lot of that hateful judgement here in the comments of Bruce’s blog. Judgement is one of the most universal spiritual gifts in the christian church.

            There is nothing wrong with you, you are simply a person living you life as you were created. As a non-binary person I see plenty of christian hate and judgement, and it took me a long time to overcome that for many reasons no one wants to hear. You are already on this journey to realize you are a a valid, normal person, regardless of church teachings. If you were raised in the church, this can be a difficult journey. But if you are true to yourself, and keep you mind and eyes open, and do not let the church indoctrination control you, you can find your way to real freedom. I like to call it Freedom From Christ, which probably irritates some people and that is fine with me.

            Just keep using your critical thinking skills and keep walking your path. And don’t let the hateful church tear you down. You will find that there are a lot of people outside of the church who will accept you just as you are, and will not judge you for being yourself.

        • Avatar
          Kel

          Thanks for your reply, Neil. I’m still facing the crossroad at the moment, but hopefully the journey will end at a favourable place for me.

          And BJW, it seems like it. From my observation, even if one holds fast to the so-called traditional sexual ethics, one will still be treated as a second class citizen if one is not completely “free” from “the desires”. You just can’t win unless you happen to be born with all the “correct” predispositions.

          • Avatar
            Karen the rock whisperer

            You just can’t win unless you happen to be born with the ‘correct’ predispositions…

            You can’t win with people whose hearts have been shrunk like the Grinch’s, and the way many Christians use the Bible is exceedingly heart-shrinking. It’s extremely sad, for both them and you, because the people around you, who supposedly love you, should be celebrating the person you are and not care about your, ah, predispositions. You aren’t winning, but they aren’t winning either, because you are who you are.

            We know that the ‘correct’ predispositions and the ‘incorrect’ predispositions all ALL VARIATIONS OF NORMAL. If you’re a believer, you’re how God made you. Does God make mistakes?

            Obviously there are sexual inclinations that are problematic because they involve people who can’t consent. I feel very sad, knowing that those people have those desires. I feel very angry when I hear that they’ve committed crimes by indulging in those desires, and doubly so when they’re in positions of power (see the Black Collar Crime posts). But most people aren’t like that, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity is, AND ALL THOSE PEOPLE ARE OKAY.

            YOU ARE ENOUGH, AS YOU ARE, AND YOU ARE PRECIOUS HUMAN BEING.

            Sorry for shouting, but this is super-important. Oh, and I hope it doesn’t matter, but I’m an old straight white woman.

      • Avatar
        theologyarchaeology

        What makes yours and others responses so funny is that you are the lost and deceived yet you think you know the truth. You don’t. Your hatred towards God stops you from seeing any truth.

    • Avatar
      GeoffT

      What an atrocious response to Bruce’s reasoned article. Dealing only with your three points I would briefly reply as follows

      Apart from the fact that there is no access to the original documents constituting the ‘bible’, it is in every form we know it a translation of whatever original language(s) it was written in, and languages are themselves interpretations. No matter how skilled the translator there has to be an element of subjectivity involved. So that’s your objectivity out of the window.

      Science and evolution are not synonyms. Evolution is a branch of science and our understanding of it varies as our knowledge increases. Science is a way of looking at the world in a way that enables us to glean the processes that underscore the physical world. What we regard as ‘sin’ has changed over the years, and it varies between cultures. Nobody, even long time biblical scholars, can agree what amounts to sin, so confused and rambling is the bible on the subject.

      It isn’t a case of God not using the words we want, it’s that he’s terrible at explaining what he means.

    • Avatar
      BJW

      Dr T, the Old testament was written largely during the Babylonian captivity. So all the events in the OT, Creation, the flood, Exodus…all were myths incorporated into this book. The Hebrews were influenced by the Babylonian society to have a code of law, but wanted to be different from the Babylonian. There is strong evidence that the 7th-day Sabbath came from the Babylonian keeping of a 7th-day for a holy-day, a day to abstain from some practices.

      The New Testament was written well after Jesus’ death, and each of the Gospels have irreconcilable differences. Some of the Pauline letters were forged.

      But you aren’t getting the point, which is that the Bible isn’t inerrant, but books and myths put together by men. Feel free to disagree, but you can’t preach at people who think you are full of it. Now, if you wanted to speak more kindly, that would be different…and nice.

    • Avatar
      Kel

      Dr. Tee, I might not be a theologian, but I disagree with you as a layman.

      Point 1.

      Christians routinely disagree with (and condemn and anathematise) each other on what constitutes the real truth. Even on very very important matters.

      For instance, the Lord Supper. What can be clearer that a simple statement of, “This is my body…” and “This is my blood…”? The most ancient denominations (Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy) believe in their respective version of transubstantiation. The Protestants, for the most part, reject this even though the Lutherans believe in the Real Presence. This very important issue has caused disagreements since time immemorial.

      The Orthodox do not believe in Original Sin – of course they believe in the existence of sin, but not in how it has been transmitted ever since the Fall. I heard some of them call Western Christians semi Sabelian/Modalist – even more damning than semi Pelagian – for inserting the Filioque clause in the Creed. Again, very important issues.

      Of course, many Evangelicals would call these other Christians followers of the tradition of men. But Evangelicals cherry pick what tradition they want to follow too. All the time.

      Why accept all the rulings of pre-Reformation church councils if the Catholics tend to get it wrong? Indeed, those councils that resulted in the Nicene Creed and foundational Christological beliefs. Conservative Lutherans even acknowledge pre-Reformation Catholic saints. Who decides which council was the last one to be valid? Why does everything seem so arbitrary?

      Point 2.

      I think what is regarded as sin is sometimes subject to interpretation too. Is usury sin? Should we let people lend money with any type of interest, which was the original meaning of the word?

      I remember seeing a Moslem scholar quote the Mosaic injunction against usury in a debate against a Christian politician on banking ethics. The Calvinist might say this is part of the social law which was abolished by the advent of Christ. However, the overwhelming majority of Christians used to believe that usury is a sin, a moral issue, a problem of the heart. But now it is the basis of the banking system worldwide.

      What about contraception? What about divorce and remarriage? I heard that the PCA now allows domestic violence as a valid ground for divorce. Was it always a sin before?

      Point 3.

      But the issue is, sometimes the way things are described in the Bible allows for myriads of interpretation. And isn’t the most traditionalist view also the way those traditionalists want to see things? Yes, LGBTQ-affirming people might have shown significant bias, but aren’t their opponents biased too? Some of those opponents make excuse for certain things which used to be considered sin (divorce and remarriage, contraception – Augustinian sexual ethics is very harsh on this, if I’m not wrong)

      People used to justify slavery by using Biblical verses.
      What the Bible really says is not the issue here. For those people of old, the Bible was clear and the liberal abolitionists were trying to usurp the authority of the clear Word of God.

      I’m really sorry for my rambling. My point is, not everything is crystal clear, at least from my point of view.

      • Avatar
        Bruce Gerencser

        Please note “Dr.” is in quotes. Tee “says” he has a doctorate but provides no evidence for his claim. He may have a doctorate, but I suspect if he does that it is from an unaccredited institution.

        David Tee is a fake name. His actual name is David Thiessen. Tee comes from a Christian Missionary & Alliance background — a Fundamentalist sect (think A.W. Tozer). Tee has a Fundamentalist view of the Bible, thus he will reject out of hand what you have said here. That said, I appreciate your comment. Even the basic beliefs Christians hold are subject to variations in interpretation. The Bible says, “one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism. Sure . . . 😂 Tee interprets this verse to mean, “ his Lord, his faith, his baptism.”

    • Avatar
      Sage

      Ah, how did I know you would respond to this one? Maybe I am some kind of prophet(ess? What is the non-gender form of prophet?)

      #1. The entire bible is purely subjective. There are thousand of interpretations of the bible. There are so many christians sects out there that all think they are right and all others are wrong. You can’t even get agreement within sects. If you get 5 christians together, you are going to have 13 different interpretations of the same passage, depending on the day.

      #2. Sin changes depending on the moment in time. Divorce – thats not so bad. Pastor screwing the associates wife – meh, not good but forgive and move on. Paul contradicting Jesus on law and works – oh – its complicated, but trust me, its ok. Those pesky passages in the old testament on slavery, selling kids, caring for brothers wives, hunting down people before they get to the safe city, just to name a few – yeah, ignore those. Jesus death fulfilled the law, so we don[t need that old stuff…well except for te 10 commandments.. and the part about man sleeping with man…OH.. and Noah, and creation, but a lot can be ignored.

      #3. What I think of the bible and christians view on anything is that it does not matter and the bible is a book originating from men, some of whom were not very trustworthy.. I’ve grown beyond the hateful, bigoted, guilt inducing, teachings of the christian bible and theology. I don’t have one fuck to give about how the bible views me, or, for that matter, the opinion of a troll who just loves to pretend he has the truth. That kind of chest thumping is entertaining, but useless.

      So, you may ask, why did I ask this question, if I was not trying to validate my own existence based on the bible? Really, its a simple answer. I see a lot of people trying to reinterpret scripture to justify remaining a christian (divorce, justifying that lover on the side, staring at the girls legs in the pew across the aisle, borrowing supplies from work). Some LGBTQ people that have spent a life in indoctrination may really want to keep their belief in god. They know they are not the evil perverts that many christians label them, but these passages are difficult (not to mention the abject hatred they will face i most churches). So, if they can be reinterpreted, then they can remain christians. If people can find ways tl stay in the church, and are happy, and accepted, then good for them. Or this may be yet another step in their deconversion. As for me, this was not a reason I stopped believing the fairy tale, it was just a benefit of leaving the church.

    • Avatar
      clubschadenfreude

      unsurprisingly, T fails again.

      Anything that doesn’t agree with our OneTrueChristian(TM) if considered a “terrible answer” by him.

      Every Christian makes up their own interpretation, and not one can show that their version is the God-Approved(tm) one. Such a pity.
      Christians can’t agree on what their god considers sin. They, again, just make it up, insisting that some magical being agrees with them and only them. They all claim to have the Truth(tm). Alas, none of them can even show that they are a Christian, per the signs that JC himself supposedly promised, much less that their personal hates and desires are some “truth”.

      The claim of “objective morality” fails since Christians don’t agree on that either, and they do have that problem that many of them have no problem with their god doing things that they would (hopefully) be aghast if a human did the same thing. That’s nothing more than a morality based on might equals right, the subjective declaration that it morality is subjectively dependent on who does something, not if an action is objectively moral or not.

      Poor God, it just can’t make itself understood and needs incompetent Christians to declare that they and only they know what this god “really” wants.

      This post is indeed very helpful. It shows just how Christians like T fail and how Christianity is nothing more than make-believe.

    • Avatar
      Astreja

      Very helpful indeed, DDT. Almost forgot to laugh at you today.

      You believe stupid things for stupid reasons, you’re a truly risible narcissist who seems to believe that his all-powerful god could use some help in getting its word out to the unwashed masses, and you wouldn’t know the “spirit of truth” if it bit you in the ass. Grow up.

    • Avatar
      thatotherjean

      Why do you think the Bible is the word of God to begin with? All I can see is a number of very human authors doing their best to figure out what their God wants of them, and struggling to do it, rebelling against it, lamenting their failings, or praising their god–not anything authoritative, just the beliefs of people in their time.

      As for sin being sin and unchanging from Adam (a figure who, in my mind, is only a stand-in for the first humans, in a coming-of-age story) to the present day, do you eat shrimp? Wear mixed fabrics? Shave the corners of your beard? Aren’t those things sins, too?

      And doe snot is undoubtedly what I would find on the stems of my day lilies, if I could perform the proper tests. Every blessed one of them was eaten by the neighborhood deer yesterday, except one bud. I am not feeling terribly charitable toward Bambi and his mother today–nor toward people who would use the Bible to condemn other people.

  3. Avatar
    BJW

    I actually came to realize that LGBTQ people deserve to exist, watching my lesbian family members show such love in their relationship. And that is when I realized the Bible was wrong, period.

  4. Avatar
    Obstaclechick

    There isn’t much that is certain in this world. Death is certain, and death scares most people. People tend to try to control as much about their lives as possible because there is so much out of our control. Some people desire that sense of control much more than others. Mr. T and people like him cling to beliefs that give them a sense of control and certainty in a world that is complex where certainty is in short supply. They are more comfortable with simple binaries where choices are clear, instead of the reality of nuance. I feel sorry for people like Mr. T because they are so full of fear – they would rather wall themselves off from the complexities of our universe than try to tackle the beauty that complexity can bring.

    LGBTQ,people are just symbolic of all the beautiful complexities of humans. Fundamentalists want to fit us all into binaries of fully female with these roles and characteristics, or fully male with those roles and characteristics. In reality, most of us are somewhere on a spectrum. Myself, I identify as female on the outside, but inside I do not feel like a gender. I certainly never fit into the female classification taught by the Biblical womanhood class my comolementarian church taught.

    I prefer to embrace the beautiful complexities in this world rather than live in unnecessary overwhelming fear.

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Bruce Gerencser