Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Homosexuality and the Bible (Part 6...Final Part)

We now turn to one New Testament reference of homosexual behavior. While the New Testeamnt contains three references, for brevity, I will only cover the biggie. If you want to check out the other two passages, they are 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and 1 Timothy 1:10. In both passages homosexual behavior is a part of "vice lists." Check it out for yourself. I now turn to the passage in Romans.

In Romans 1:26-27 Paul writes:

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural 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 indecent acts with other men, and received themselves the due penalty for their perversion."

Again, what seems obvious has been challenged by revisionists. Similar to their argument regarding the Levitical prohibitions, most revisionists will say something like this: Paul's initial comments on pagan idolatry form the context for his comments on homosexual acts and therefore his focus is not on the homosexual acts per se, but rather the idolatry in league with which the homosexual acts are performed. For some revisionists, the sin is idolatry, not homosexual behavior. Other revisionists suggest that Paul is referring specifically too pederasty, not all types of homosexuality.

As one traditional scholar Guenther Haas suggests, "Paul's point is not that God's wrath is only directed against idolatry. It is that all three representative phenomena - idolatry, homosexuality and social strife - elicit the wrath of God in human culture." Another traditional scholar inisits that God punishes them for acting contrary to the knowledge they already have: knowledge regarding the sins of idolatry and same-sex intercourse. It is interesting that Paul observes the trading of natural acts for unnatural ones, it seems that for Paul there is an assumed norm for the way God created humans to act sexually. This is not surprising since Paul was an educated Jew. He was just reiterating what all Jews already knew.

As far as the argument of pederasty goes, why would Paul include women in the pericope if his discussion was limited to pederasty. Also, N.T. Wright discusses proof of Paul's knowledge of the possibility of a loving and lasting relationship between two men, which means his cultural scope of awareness of homosexuality was not limited only to the practice of pederasty.

While I could say more, it is obvious that Paul condemned homoerotic behavior. While I haven't read all arguments that favor a revisionist interpretation, it is hard to believe that any revisionist interpretation would supplant the modern scholarship that places this text in its context.

Honestly, I've gotten kind of tired of writing about homosexuality and look forward to broaching a new subject. Hmmm...

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