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Winter-Spring 2010 Table of Contents

Biblical Sexuality

Author Jennifer Knust on what the Bible says about homosexuality

| From Commonwealth | By Kimberly Cornuelle

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In the video above, Jennifer Knust speaks about the Bible and homosexuality. Photo by Frank Curran

Even for nonbelievers, the Holy Bible can offer timeless inspiration, guidance, and drama. But, says Jennifer Knust, a School of Theology assistant professor of New Testament and Christian origins, it’s far too ambiguous to serve as a guide to sexual behavior, despite U.S. courts’ history of using it to justify sodomy laws that have only recently been struck down. In 1975, when Virginia’s sodomy law was challenged, a federal court upheld the statute, arguing that it was rooted in Judaic and Christian law — and quoted Leviticus as justification. It took twenty-eight years before the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated sodomy laws, including Virginia’s — in 2003, a year after Massachusetts had struck down its sodomy laws.

Knust’s 2005 book, Abandoned to Lust: Sexual Slander and Ancient Christianity (Columbia University Press), examines the use of sexualized vocabulary by Christian authors from Paul to Irenaeus of Lyons. Her next book, scheduled for release this year, scours the Bible for a unified perspective on sexual behavior.

“My main argument is that biblical texts do not speak with one voice,” says Knust, also a College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of religion and an ordained American Baptist USA pastor. “There is no shortcut to sexual ethics through the Bible.”

Knust spoke to Bostonia about what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality.

Bostonia: Does the Bible say anything at all about homosexuality?

Knust: The Bible doesn’t say any one thing about homosexuality. Arguably, it doesn’t say anything about homosexuality at all, in the sense that someone would think of that word and what it means today. The idea that homosexuality — as it’s understood in a contemporary American context — has anything to do with the way that same-sex attrac­tion and pairing might have been understood in the seventh century BCE or the first century CE is just preposterous.

The idea that we could go back and find a single sexual morality from the Bible is problematic not only because of the historical and cultural difference between ourselves and these books, but because the books themselves are contradictory.

Are there passages that do mention same-sex attraction?

The Song of Songs celebrates nonmarital desire, and in the context of early Jewish and Christian interpretation, that’s an occasion for queer theology. The Christian interpretation is, how do we imagine ourselves as the bride of Christ? But of course it’s men imagining themselves as the bride of Christ. In the rabbinic tradition, they’re imagining themselves as Yahweh’s wife.

How do you refocus people to think about the context of biblical texts?

We’ve lost a lot of the sense of why the text was written, what it was trying to address. We just don’t have the information we would need to understand the diversity of people and opinions — even the vocabulary of the time and assumptions that people would bring to the text. Think about medical literature in antiquity; the ideas are so foreign to our own medical literature. If we’re going to think about homosexuality as a biological category, what kind of biology are we thinking about? It would be ludicrous to use those texts today.

How do the texts reflect sexuality?

Human beings think about and talk about sexual desire — that is a constant. Are there passages that mention sexual desire between men in the Bible? Yes. Are there passages that allude to sexual desire between women? Yes. But details about how that same-sex desire is understood and represented have changed.

The reason people look to the Bible to come up with doctrinal or dogmatic statements about what sexuality is has to do with the overwhelming cultural authority of the Bible. If one can claim that the Bible is on one’s side, apparently the conversation is supposed to shut down. But it has the opposite effect, because a person will say, “The Bible is on my side, and it says x,” and the other person will say, “The Bible is on my side and says y.” There’s no way to solve that dilemma.

As long as we think we can get to some short­hand solution by beginning a sentence, “The Bible says …” we will continue to look to the Bible to say something, and not solve our problem. And we won’t hold ourselves responsible for the sexual decisions we’re making.

Is the Bible worth interpreting on these points if it’s on another cultural level?

I think it’s worth reading the Bible to have access to different ways of thinking about sexual desire and to notice our common humanity with people from long ago, who were very concerned about sexual desire, about their bodies, about how God related to the way they desired.

It’s a way of thinking with and through people who had similar questions to ours, but answered them in different ways. It’s like returning to our ancestral heritage, and we should take our ancestors seriously — if we consider the biblical authors to be our ancestors.

Do you get a lot of questions pointing to specific texts to try to prove a theory?

I’m a professor with the Massachusetts Bible Society, and someone asked a question online, “Did Paul and his world have any conception of faithful monogamous same-sex love?” I argued that Paul had little conception of faithful mon­ogamous opposite-sex love, let alone same-sex love. In First Corinthians he’s more concerned about celibacy, not about heterosexual love. For people to want to use that text to argue for same-sex love or heterosexual marriage, this is a prob­lem. It would make no sense to him; in his con­text slaves don’t get married, for example. In his context, celibacy is preferred, and the point of marriage is to protect couples from illicit sexual desire, not for procreation.

What about Leviticus?

One can’t help but note that in the holiness code, for example, the passage about men lying with men is identified as improper sexual behavior, placed along with sleeping with a woman who’s menstruating, committing adultery, committing incest or bestiality.

The framing of those laws is, don’t be like the Canaanites and the Egyptians. So is the point of the law to identify what the Israelite God thinks? That’s part of it, but another part is to put distance between the Israelites and the Canaanites and Egyptians. It’s also to accuse the Canaanites and Egyptians of behavior anathema to Yahweh.

Do you think people will ever stop using the Bible for their own arguments?

That’s my dream, that people will get the idea that there’s the notion of context. I’m moving beyond sex to the broader question of biblical authority. Biblical texts are fluid, not stable, and it’s questionable whether a Bible that we read today in translation has anything to do with the Bible that Paul read or even Augustine read in Latin because his Greek was kind of crummy. He was reading crummy Latin transla­tions. So I’d like to undermine the idea that these are the same books.

It also would be nice to talk about something constructive. There are wonderful texts in the Bible, and if we stop applying them in this sim­plistic way, maybe we could find something really beautiful — and stop using the Bible as a hurtful instrument.

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On 25 September 2010 at 9:29 PM, Marilyn ('71) wrote:

Rather than getting in a knotty theological debate, I stand on the Word of God and my position in Christ and rebuke Ms. Knust. She should be in prayer on this, asking for a filling of the Holy Spirit and asking Him to lead her in her study of the Bible - every time. After all, He was the inspiration for all that is written in it. If a member of the Holy Trinity is not good enough for her - not to mention what is written in the Bible - I suggest she get into serious prayer with The Lord and examine herself. It is not her right to change one jot or tittle or reinterpret the obvious. If she thinks so, she is committing another abomination before God, and one that brought down the "covering Cherub" and 1/3 of the angels, namely, pride. And that led eventually to the Cross.

Or she simply is a nominal Christian.

On 10 September 2010 at 11:00 AM, Prof. Donald F. Megnin ('60) wrote:

The "Bible" has been used for "proof-texting" ever since the authors (biblical writers) submitted their words with the thought that no one would question their authorship if they stated "Thus saith the Lord" and the illiterate masses believed every word that these authors claimed was given to them by God! They had no way of evaluating what was told them. So long as the claim was made that these "stories" were directly from the deity whom they all worshipped, how could illiterates tell the difference?

On 29 July 2010 at 2:25 PM, Roger Freeland ('75) wrote:

It is a sad commentary on our times, and the general ignorance of the Bible in our culture, that you would publish your interview with Jennifer Knust regarding her book on Biblical sexuality in the Winter/Spring 2010 edition of Bostonia.

Contrary to the claims of Ms. Knust, the Bible is quite clear in telling us what God considers to be holy and godly sexual conduct, and what He considers sexual sin. For the sake of brevity I will use only four verses of Scripture to illustrate this. There are many others.

In the first chapter of Paul's epistle to the Romans, he lays out his argument that all people are accountable to God for their general moral, and specifically sexual conduct, "...because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." (vss.19 and 20). Paul then points out that many, though they know this truth of God, choose to reject that truth, and Him. Paul then writes, in verses 26 and 27, "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."

I use this passage relating to homosexual sin because that was the issue raised by Bostonia in the interview. The Biblical passage is quite clear, and quite easily understood. It does not require cultural context to be understood (Scripture is true for all cultures in all times). And regarding the reliability of our translations of the Bible, the New King James version, from which I quote, is based on original source documents, the number and authenticity of which are unique among ancient writings. In other words, they got it right.

Ms. Knust presents a critique of Scripture that is typical of liberal theology and post- modern thinking. This kind of critique asks what the authors meant, in their cultural context, by what they wrote, and assumes that they meant something other than what we would mean by the same words. So Ms. Knust comes to the conclusion that the Bible says nothing reliable about human sexuality, because we cannot know what the authors meant. In other words, she begins her understanding of Scripture with an assumption that disqualifies that Scripture from being understandable. I have to laugh, recalling from the gospels Pilate's question, "What is truth?". The irony of this question was not lost on the author, who knew that Pilate was asking this of the One who said "I am...the truth". But her argument reminds me much more of a scene from Genesis, when the serpent asked of Eve, "Did God really say...?".

Dear readers, Ms. Knust represents a way of looking at Scripture that denies the Bible's own claim of being inspired, or "God-breathed". If one is to understand the Bible, one must begin from faith in God the author (the Bible's claim, not mine). But please, do not miss the real point of Paul and of all Scripture, which is that God is holy, and mankind is sinful, and that there is therefore an unbridgeable gap between us and God. Yet God, in His great love, mercy and grace, came to us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, and suffered the execution on the cross that was the just and necessary penalty for my sins and yours, so that we might be considered by God to be made holy and blameless, reconciled to Him so that we, who believe in Jesus, may live for and with Him, now and beyond death.

Thank you.

On 28 April 2010 at 2:40 PM, Haralambos Ventis (STH'01) wrote:

@ Mike (and this is my final contribution to this discussion; I apologize for overstating my case)

Mike, this is a very shallow, superficial and irresponsible way of reading Scripture that you are endorsing -- among other things, it works as a comfortable, convenient pretext or allibi by which one can avoid thinking for oneself. Religious traditions are not only to be revered (as they should) but also critiqued, other wise they become totalitarian discourses that disregard reality altogether (in the sense that, if reality is somehow against us, so much the worst for reality, not our sacred texts). The few remaining hardcore Marxists, who attribute the fall of communism to a...western conspiracy, are a good illustration of this kind of fundamentalist attitude. Keep in mind, too, that there are many things in Scripture that are explicitly forbidden, yet life has overcome them and made them redundant: Among several examples: "All fat is the Lord's. It shall be a PERPETUAL stature throughout your generations, in ALL your settlements: you must not eat any fat or any blood." & ! 11:4 : "These you shall regard as DETESTABLE among the birds: They shall not be eaten; they are an ABOMINATION." etc. Remember that some remnants of this OT attitude are traceable even in the NT, specifically in Acts, where it is FORMALLY stated that the consumption of flesh that has been strangled or drenched in its own blood is forbidden to Christians (Acts 15:19). Some cults still cling on to this passage, citing it as an excuse for prohibiting blood transfusions even for medical purposes!

The Bible is an open book, an on-going affair rather than a closed text. If we keep reading it in this fundamentalist manner (in an "end of the discussion" manner), we'll be justifying the most potent critique of religious faith, that it works, disastrously, as a conversation-stopper, blocking up in advance all social progress, all change--against the Bible's spirit itself: Doesn't Isaiah say somewhere "Come, let us reason together"?

On 27 April 2010 at 12:41 PM, Mike (CFA'85) wrote:

Regardless of ones views on sexuality, it is important to remember that when the Bible says something, it only needs to state it once for it to be true. II Tim. 3:16 says that all scripture (every word, every sentence) is given by God. So if there is one verse that is against homosexuality, it is wrong. As it turns out, there are many. Hmmm, end of argument it seems to me.

On 25 April 2010 at 9:23 PM, Haralambos Ventis (STH'01) wrote:

@theSilent Majority and most people who responded negatively to Prof. Knust's post (and mine):

1. Although it probably won't make much of a difference in this discussion, let me state that I am not a liberal, in the general sense of what being a "liberal" in the US or Europe has come to mean. So far in my life, I have deliberately refrained from committing myself to any specific agenda, be that liberal or conservative, because I don't want to be made a prisoner of concepts or labels; each moral problem is unique and deserves individual treatment and reflection -- for example, I am confidently against abortion as a practice, which I liken to plain murder, and would not justify it except under the most extenuating of circumstances; surely that does remove me from the "liberal" camp, no? And since we are all educated people in this forum, one of the misunderstandings that must be dispelled from the outset here, is that hardly everyone among those who have had a change of mind and heart about homosexuality is, necessarily, a liberal, in the sense of subscribing to an "an! ything goes" mindset or having bought into cultural relativism or political correctness. Many among those who nowadays stand up for gay rights, myself included, are very conservative in most other matters, except that, after a very long way, we have come to a point where we do not allow our (otherwise sincere Christian faith) to blind us as to the so-called "hard facts" of life. Faith should broaden the mind, not shrink it, for faith is a constant reminder that life is much, much more complex than we'd like to think.

2. By "hard facts" of life, I mean the unexpected surprises that life in its biological, chemical, physical, and social level entails, as well as the readiness or willingness to change one's mind in light of these compelling challenges. Surely, educated people can begin to understand that what truly sets the western world apart from eastern theocratic states like Iran, which are petrified in their social norms (and so hardly make the list of civilized regimes), is that the West, and certainly the American society, are capable of self-criticism in the face of new discoveries ---discoveries that force us to reconsider even our deepest, most heartfelt and most strongly-held beliefs. This process of waking up from dogmatic slumber is no doubt always painful for everyone involved (myself included, of course); nevertheless, without the willingness to reconsider, even grudgingly but sincerely, our previous beliefs if necessary, civilization as we know it collapses, and we' re back ! in the stone age, where might or brute force, not reasonable argument, reigns. Nor can we be selective about what we' re willing to give up in terms of beliefs, if life itself shows us that a certain belief doesn't work, or is false. When the West only gradually and very slowly decided to look differently (i.e. positively) at the psychosomatic condition known as homosexuality, against popular perception and conventional thought, it wasn't because western societies woke up one day in a corrupt state of mind with a view to demolishing traditional values; rather, it was on account of realizing, from a multitude of reliable sources, not least of which are biology, genetics, and physiology, that what is known as "sexual preference" is in fact no preference at all, but a genetic given, determined from as early as conception. It has long been established that the very brains of gay people are structured differently from those of their straight counterparts. What are we to do with such a disturbing and unexpected finding?Surely it must make a difference in our perception of gay people, if we give it but a moment's thought. Unfortunately, most devout Christians react in two ways that are both bereft of serious re! flection, as they are contradictory with one another: initially, they tend to immediately dismiss this fact (i.e. that homosexuality, like heterosexuality, are biological givens), just like I used to in my high-school and college days, for by disposition we all are somehow incapable or unwilling to accept that God or nature would go so far as to produce a gay race. But even if the selfsame people are somehow made to see the genetic link in this case, they still trivialize it by comparing it to gluttony or other similar sinful impulses (such as gambling, etc) -- as if erotic love can be reduced to a mere negative impulse! From initial denial, they resort to indifference, in either case showing a lack of serious concern for the needs of a race of people whose very existence appears (but only appears, in my view) to compromise Scripture. Thus, they place love of beliefs above love for actual people! Doing so, in fact, constitutes a grave sin against gay people: it is a grave i! njustice spawned by unforgivable inconsideration, given that homosexua ls, like all people, are real men and women who are just as capable of experiencing and reciprocating love, no less than the average straight person; far from being caricatures, or intrinsically corrupt individuals, homosexuals have the emotional and moral depth of any decent person we have known, their only difference lying in the bad luck to have been born with a genetic mutation they have never chosen, cannot change, but would certainly change, had it been possible for them to do so, because no one would want to be different, and that different, at that, in a predominantly straight culture, which looks down on deviants as being less than human, indeed as scum of the earth. A homosexual must first strive to overcome self-hatred and self-rejection in childhood and adolescence, often unsuccessfully, before embarking on the scary task of confronting for life parents, siblings, classmates, relatives, co-workers, you name it.Try for a mere moment to bring yourselves to this sit! uation, and you'd begin to see why many homosexuals decide to end their lives in adolescence.

3. Straight people have done nothing whatsoever to earn our own sexual preference; it was simply given to us, never worked through or deliberated upon. Whenever we deny a gay person their right to mate with their own kind, what we say between the lines, unreflectively and unbeknownst even to ourselves, is this: I may be lucky enough to have been born straight, which is a great thing, for it thankfully spares me a bitter and life-long conflict both with myself and my family and society at large; In due time I will marry whomever I chose, and am expected to enjoy the serenity of mind and the rest of the privileges that come with the widespread social acceptance and the respectability of a normal family. You, on the other hand, as a gay person, must be denied these rights and for the rest of your life, these will be your options: you must either live a secret life under the table (in constant fear of being suspected or found out), or resort to a fake marriage (which will save t! he appearances, so precious to our tastes), or give yourself to life-long celibacy. Any time a gay person is rejected, what is rejected is not one aspect of his/hers, one simple feature or trait, for homosexuality is not primarily a mere garment or a behavior; it is an all-encompassing condition invloving the whole human being, and it is the whole human being who is thereby rejected, in his/hertotality. Nothing is more ludicrous or more inhuman than asking someone to repent for their orientation: this is like asking a person of color to repent for being black. If this description sounds like a caricature, remember how hard it was to knock the slightest amount of sense sense into those respectable and vocal racists who denied basic human rights to people of color, not so long ago.

4. One final point, regarding Scripture. Granted that we know the gender of the first couple, Adam and Eve, i.e., that they were male and female, we must ask ourselves a still more fundamental question, which can shed some light on the issue under debate here. What can we say about their race? What exactly was it? Surely, if they were real people, they must've been members of one of the races currently existing on this planet. So what was that race? Of course, anyone who's read Genesis, knows that no race is anywhere mentioned in its narrative. Incidentally, this is just as well, for imagine what endless trouble we would have been put to, had a race been stated in Genesis -- every other race would be henceforth considered non-human, period, even in our so-called "enlightened days," and we'd be still debating race here, rather than sexual orientation. But that's not my point. My point, rather, for raising this question, is that the very fact that God did create humanity out of a single human race, certainly DID NOT prevent Him from creating other races, in the long run, though the creation and gradual emergence of these alternative races in the course of history are not mentioned in Scripture. By the same token, in due time God has created numerous other biological and social realities, among which gay people are a mere instance, whose purpose is likewise not accounted for in Scripture and as a result thereof they are st! ill striving for human acceptance in a world ravaged by bigotry and division. Does this sound shocking or blasphemous to you? If so, remember that Scripture, from beginning to end, is full of shocking reversals, which is hardly surprising given that the living God prortrayed therein IS a God of surprises and reversals (just read the Prophets); that's why He is called the living God, unlike the static, flat idols that we make up in the limitations of our finite minds and project into Heaven.

On 18 April 2010 at 2:30 PM, Cheryl Overs (GSM'94) wrote:

Romans 1:20-28 covers this too.

On 15 April 2010 at 9:25 AM, Paul Short (SMG'90) wrote:

This is Garbage. More liberals infecting theology and attempting to profit from it. At the expense of a generation that barely knows skills or graces of family and civility. Let alone how to support themselves after paying enormous sums to universities to learn how to hate themselves, Christianity and the US.

On 15 April 2010 at 8:40 AM, Anonymous (CAS'09) wrote:

Thank you, Mr. Baram, for pointing out what the Jewish tradition actually states. It's frustrating when academics such as this make side-notes about Jewish/rabbinic tradition and don't base them on good clear fact, just speculation (But, yes, they posit as fact).

On 15 April 2010 at 8:05 AM, Philip A. Watkins, D.Min (STH'97) wrote:

The article by Dr. Jennifer Knust is, to me, another tired and troubling example of the mainline churches, (dare I say enemic,) doctrinal drift into political correctness et.al...

While I do not claim special expertise in Biblical or ancient languages, I am cognizant that even the most liberal mainline churches affirm the Revised Standard Version of the Bible to be an accurate translation from the original languages. That being the case, the Bible either says what it says, or the centuries of scholarship and critique resulting in the generally accepted biblical translation and interpretation are of no consequence. Therefore, to say that the Bible has noting to say about sexuality to me seems ludicrous.

Let me be clear, I am not and never have been on a mission of discrimination or persecution. Human beings will do whatever they freely choose to do, sexually or otherwise. But if the Bible is "God Inspired" then Scripture critiques culture, not the other way around

On 14 April 2010 at 11:10 AM, Victor Price (CGS'78) wrote:

I believe that contrary to Dr.Knust's suggestion that the ancient biblical text can not be taken literally in the context of today's society is incorrect. I believe that the Bible makes it clear that same sex 'relations' are an abomination to God. That is, the 'act', not the person. Remember the Word says essentially that the greatest commandment is that we love God with all our hearts and all our strength....and to love each other as we love ourselves. No man has the right to judge a person based on sexual preference. Only God. I'll leave it to Him.

On 14 April 2010 at 10:39 AM, brooke (MET'93) wrote:

Why anybody gives any credence to the bible is beyond me. People just use those myths to justify their existence and make themselves feel important. I'd rather read Bullfinch's Mythology. The stories are better.

On 14 April 2010 at 10:36 AM, John Larrere (GSM'75) wrote:

Dr Knust is on solid ground in terms of biblical interpretation. She does not suggest we ignore the Bible but does refute proof-texting which does violence to the scripture. In many cases the reaction to her solid thinking is, "This is my story, and I am sticking to it." In many cases we look to religion to sanction (think "sanctify") something that is actually cultural and practical at a particular time: Patriarchy, Dietary Laws, Meat on Friday, Celibacy, Slavery and so forth. Establishing the context actually strengthens the spiritual and practical significance of the scripture because it frees the Word of God from its cultural shackles. Well done, Dr.

On 14 April 2010 at 9:20 AM, Albert-Allan Mazur (GRS'71) wrote:

I fail to appreciate Ms. Knust's ultimate literary point; especially since her focus is the Bible. Any piece of literature that purports to use God's thoughts as a baseline is suspect of ulterior motives; and adding that to the fact that the Bible has been redacted, edited, abridged, and cut and pasted into a tool to be used by the elders of the early christians, I would question the fuss. I don't believe that human beings have changed their sexual preferences and proclivities much over the past 3000 years. However, their excuses for sexual behavior, pro and con and justified and rationalized, have changed and were probably dependant on other forces. Ms. Knust is not looking for acts but rather a peoples' feelings about those acts. What is really needed to be found is a grafitti Bible, much like the ancient tags on the walls of buildings in Pompei. You can tell a lot about societal values by what its people, or "God", mock, satirize, and denigrate in the utmost rigorously ho! nest fashion.

On 13 April 2010 at 8:30 PM, Essie Dube (CFA'67) wrote:

I'm just grateful my children have long since graduated. This "anything goes" culture we live in has run our country into the ground. The rights of the majority have been usurped by the rights of the few, compliments of the ACLU. We have a completely different moral compass than that which guided me into adulthood. Violence and sexual abuse abound; pornography thrives on the Internet; pedophilia continues to scar the lives of adults who, as children, were sent into a den of lions dressed in cassocks. Parents pay a king's ransom to send their sons and daughters to universities that offer revisionist history and radical philosophies. Our universities have sold us out, just as our highest government officials have sold us out. We are living with the results and they are disastrous.

On 13 April 2010 at 8:28 PM, Tom Dolan (SPH'92) wrote:

"The broader question of biblical authority" in the Chrtistian tradition is inextricably linked to the idea of divine revelation. Unless divine revelation extended to the choosing of the canonical books of the Bible, and to the preservation of its essential message through the corruption of the original texts through the years, and the imperfections of translation, then the Bible has no authority at all. Two important ideas are confounded here, I suggest: a) whether understanding the Bible may be difficult, among other reasons, because of the different cultures of the original human authors and today's reader; and b) whether a search to understand what God intends us to understand, through study and prayer is appropriate or whether avoiding being hurtful is the main priority and the current translations are so far removed from what was originally divinely revealed as to be of no authority. Remember that we are promised that God will be with us always, even to the consumation of the world. Certainly we can progress over time in our understanding of Sacred Scripture through the advbances of linguistic and archaeology, and through all the other advances in science and other studies. But God who can write straight with crooked lines is able to touch our hearts through scriptur, if we are willing and prepared and God is certainly not limited in this by the imperfection of translations. As high as the heavens are above the earth so are God's ways above us; nevertheless, the love that Jesus showed foreach of us, in ways wee only dimly understand, will, if we allow it to, in somee way transcend this distance.

On 13 April 2010 at 8:10 PM, Conrad wrote:

There is no mention of Sodom and Gomorra at all in this article, maybe its in the book. Clearly this was in the earlier part of the bible and its probably the strongest pointer to where old testament Gods views were on this subject .So any other later texts or writers must have known about the fate of Lots wife and the wrath of old testament God for the folks in these towns Sodom and Gomorra.

On 13 April 2010 at 7:28 PM, Bea wrote:

(1) the Bible does not condemn "homosexuality". It does condemn anal sex between men. (2) it condemns effeminates and those who have sex with them. Most of us would agree. You can use the Bible as a moral compass if you pre-comment by acknowledging the differences bgwn them and us and then from principle to specific behavior. The principle is "agape" God's love. With that as your starting point, you can debate whether or not gay love is maningful and a source for experiencing God's love. B

On 13 April 2010 at 7:28 PM, phillip baram (GRS'76) wrote:

Let's cut through the professor's mumbo-jumbo, cultural relativism, presumed progressive thinking and non sequiturs. As far as the Jewish Bible is concerned (Leviticus 18:22), a homosexual act between men is verboten, period. Reform, Reconstructionist and some Conservative Jewish rabbis also dance around this bold-letter millenial-old prohibition, much like the good professor does, but they too are patently subjective and are playing with the spirit and letter of the law. One more proof that a high IQ doesn't necessarily translate as objective intellectual honesty.

On 13 April 2010 at 5:12 PM, Dennis Scoles (SED'83) wrote:

The Bible is not contradictory and speak very plainly that homosexuality is sinful. Romans 1 :25-32 is very plain in its indictment plus there are other scriptures that support the sinfulness of homosexuality. The author is typical of folks who think they know better than God. Frankly I am distressed the BU would entertain such an author's views.

On 13 April 2010 at 4:20 PM, Travis Hubble (GRS'03) wrote:

I fail to follow the logic in this article. The premise seems to be that the Bible has an inconsistent or contradictory message about homosexual conduct. But I failed to find any references to passages in the Bible that express support for homosexual conduct, and there seems to be a specific exclusion of the several other references that express a clear disapproval of homosexual conduct. The article spends some time arguing that legal and political debate should not end with the mention of the Bible, but I fail to see how this fits into her overall argument. Is her argument that the Bible is amibiguous about homosexuality, or that we should stop relying on the Bible as a source of law and policy? I certainly support the argument that the Bible should not end debate on legal and social issues. But how does that support her thesis? This article seems to use the tactic of climate change skeptics--rather than attack a body of evidence by raising serious arguments, the author attempts to frame her conclusions in the form of questions, thereby hoping to persuade people who don't have time to research the issue that there is a serious debate on the issue. I'd rather she just be honest and state, While the Bible expresses a clear and consistent moral disapproval of homosexual conduct, let's debate whether that alone should form the basis of our social and legal policy.

On 7 April 2010 at 5:06 AM, shasta beane (STH'01) wrote:

excellent and needed article

On 8 March 2010 at 10:28 AM, James Jones, Ph.D. (GRS'81) wrote:

While it is true that the Greco-Roman culture had a diverse set of attitudes regarding human sexuality, and homosexuality in particular, neither the Hebrew and Christian Bibles favor this lifestyle. These behaviors are associated with pagan culture which, for both Jews and Christians, is to be renounced. Her argumentation, (which has a mocking tone), on the video, does nothing to discredit the traditional interpretation of the Bible, that men are to have sexual intercourse with their wives, not with women who are not their wives ("vessel") or with other men. Since women are unable to penetrate other women, the possibility of female homosexual love (lesbianism) is a non-starter in Judeo-Christian thought. Even while noting the preference of the Apostle Paul for celibacy, which may have its roots in Greek thought more than Hebrew, the professor cannot get around these arguments which have formed the basis of Christian theology and tradition on the subject of homosexuality for hundreds of years.

On 17 March 2010 at 10:01 AM, Haralambos Ventis (STH'01) wrote:

There is no doubt that Christianity has its doctrinal and metaphysical constants (as of course it should), yet in its subtler, noblest form, it is also a self-correcting, self-critical faith open to new challenges and willing to learn from the world and its sciences, even as it teaches the world the basics of salvation. Prof. Knust is right on the mark when she says that Holy Scripture has been repeatedly used as a hurting instrument (sometimes cited even to justify slavery and sexism) by those seeking a retreat to a mythical worldview innocent of current scientific data and static in its denial of any social change. It is very sad that even as late as 2010, there are otherwise well-intended Christians who refuse to consider for a single minute that homosexuals have never chosen their orientation but have simply been born with a different form of sexuality which is not only inbred, but does not prevent them, when they act on it, from being monogamous, loving, decent, honest, hardworking, law-abiding, and worthwhile persons. The simple truth is, the Bible is as innocent of the genetic origins of homosexuality as it is of the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions — both of which have been vehemently contested in the past by religious and ecclesiastical circles, but which nowadays are taught everywhere in the civilized world as essential truths. If that should teach as anything, it is not the falsehood of Scripture, but that it ought to be read with an open mind, and for what it is: i.e. as an on-going affair, open to sometimes radical social reversals, like the ones effected by the OT Prophets, who had scandalized the self-righteous Jews of their time.

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