The Battle Between GLBT and the Church


by: The Rev. Dr. James T. Kries


There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)

Well, that seems plain enough. It's particularly true when you tie it to our main focus passage:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

Just to be on the safe side, let's also include the next verse as well:

"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:17)

Certainly Jesus didn't exclude GLBT persons. Jesus said it is the will of the Father that all be saved. If God didn't exclude anyone, who is it that is keeping people, including GLBT persons, from coming to the Lord Jesus Christ? There are actually two answers to that question: we ourselves and the church.

We are doing this to ourselves? Yes! We have listened to the lies for so long we are actually starting to believe them. Now it should be said the majority of people of this planet agree our only reward is condemnation, but we need to be strong in our faith, knowing that God created us and He accepts us -- what more do we need?

Finally we get down to the real culprit -- the church. Yes, the group that was supposed to free us is in actuality the one trying to enslave us. But:

"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32)

Actually we shouldn't be so surprised, since the same was true in Jesus' time. He referred to them in the harshest of terms:

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. {24} "You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! {25} "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. {26} "You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. {27} "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness. {28} "Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. {29} "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, {30} and say, 'If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' {31} "Consequently you bear witness against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. {32} "Fill up then the measure of the guilt of your fathers. {33} "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell? {34} "Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, {35} that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar." (Matthew 23:23-35)

Little changed in Jesus' day from that which went before to that which came after, up to this very day. It's not a matter of what they could be, which is glorious, but rather what they are.

Before actually going to Scripture, we need to say a little about reading and interpreting Scripture. Such a study is called exegesis and is the term we will use in this and succeeding articles.

Now the Bible was not written in English (nor Spanish nor any other modern language). The Old Testament was written in Hebrew and the New Testament was written in Koine Greek and Aramaic (a Syrian dialect spoken in the region around the Lake of Galilee). These original hand-written manuscripts are referred to as original autographs. These are without error.

When these were later translated into English (and other languages) certain biases of the translators crept in, so most modern translations are close to, but not totally in agreement with, the autographs. Some differences are accidental, but many are deliberate.

Under exegesis, one goal is to remove "cultural" references so only universal truths remain. That is a slippery-slope, heavily influenced by the competence and motivation of the translators. Unless a person is guided by God's Spirit, misstatements are common.

Another group are the fundamentalists, who try to present the original Bible "as is" except in the English language. Baptists are examples of this group. But even here, where there is an emotional investment in the outcome, all logic goes out the window. The obvious example is their illogical, irrational, nonsensical treatment of what they refer to as "homosexuality" (whatever that is). The word homosexual was only coined during the last two centuries yet they choose to place it in a two thousand year old text!

Removing cultural aspects from the Bible is also somewhat of a slippery-slope. The ancient Jews maintained a strongly patriarchal society in which women and children had few rights. They depended on the first-born male head-of-household for their very existence (under Jewish Law, women had no standing whatsoever -- they were property of the husband). Thus we encounter strong feelings about the role of women (straight and lesbian) in the church. In ancient Israel there was one law that covered both religious and secular activities; when we separate the two we're never sure in which category something rightly belongs.

All this leads to the prime verse used by "Christian" right-wing fundamentalists against GLBT persons: Leviticus 18:22, and its sister verse 20:13. (Verse 18:22 describes the offense and 20:13 prescribes the punishment). It would be easy to dismiss this as being of no consequence to New Testament Christians, except it is used as basis for Romans 1:27, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, etc.

From patriarch Abraham came son Isaac, and from him came son Jacob (later called Israel). Now Israel had twelve sons from which came the twelve tribes of Israel, one of which was Levi. When God set up His kingdom in the Promised Land, the Tribe of Levi was set aside to tend the duties of the Temple. As a result the other eleven tribes "tithed" their subsistence in the form of crops, oil, cattle, etc.. Levites were the priests and the Book of Leviticus described the duties and responsibilities of these priests.

Chapters 18 and 19 describe rules and regulations, while chapter 20 describes the punishments for violation (often including death). Let's examine verse 18:22 in more detail:

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." (Leviticus 18:22).

Here is the same verse showing the major Hebrew words and their translations: ". . . shakab: H7901 . zakar: H2145 . . 'ishshah: H802 . . tow'ebah: H8441" (Leviticus 18:22).

Dots represent minor words, such as a, an, the, etc. while the "H" numbers represent the corresponding entry in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. The Hebrew words as defined as follows:

7901. shakab, shaw-kab'; a prim. root; to lie down (for rest, sexual connection, decease or any other purpose):-- X at all, cast down, ([over-]) lay (self) (down), (make to) lie (down, down to sleep, still, with), lodge, ravish, take rest, sleep, stay.

2145. zakar, zaw-kawr'; from H2142; prop. remembered, i.e. a male (of man or animals, as being the most noteworthy sex):-- X him, male, man (child, -kind).

802. 'ishshah, ish-shaw'; fem. of H376 or H582; irregular plur. nashiym, naw-sheem'; a woman (used in the same wide sense as H582):--[adulter]ess, each, every, female, X many, + none, one, + together, wife, woman. Often unexpressed in English.

8441. tow'ebah, to-ay-baw'; or to'ebah, to-ay-baw'; fem. act. part. of H8581; prop. something disgusting (mor.), i.e. (as noun) (an abhorrence; espec. idolatry or (concr.) an idol:--abominable (custom, thing), abomination.

Note the terms imply sexual relations between men as with a man and a woman, but in what context we're not sure. Some scholars point out that the words can also be used as in reclining, but most discard that interpretation. Key to the puzzle is the Hebrew word tow'ebah for which the preferred translation is either idol or idolatry. So if a man lies with another man )in sexual intercourse) for the purpose of pagan (i.e., Satanic) worship, such actions are indeed prohibited by the Bible. I know of no homosexual today engaging in sex for Satanic worship (but if there is, such actions are prohibited by Scripture). God was very clear on idol worship. Consider His Commandments:

"I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. {3} "You shall have no other gods before Me. {4} "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. {5} "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, {6} but showing lovingkindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments." (Exodus 20:2-6)

Many of you will recognize that as the First Commandment. God makes very clear He wants no other gods before Him. Remember that if gods are not of God, they are of Satan.

Now you may state this is a very interesting conclusion, but why would men having sex together be considered idolatry or idol worship? You need to know something about pagan fertility cults.

Thousands of years ago people looked to the land for their subsistence. As farmers they knew if you had good seed and you fertilized well, you would reap good harvests -- if you had good rains and didn't have natural disasters. They could control planting of seed, plowing and fertilizing, but they had little control over rains and other weather factors. These they felt were provinces of the gods. Further they reasoned, there was some connection between human fertility and growth in humans with the same things in plants. Thus besides offering plant seeds to the gods, they opted to offer human seed (semen) as well.

This took several forms. In one the men ejaculated their semen into the ceremonial fire. In another they threw young babies into the fire. In yet another the worshipper had sex with a temple cult prostitute. It is this latter practice that is covered by Leviticus 18:22. You say that's unbelievable -- prove it! OK, let's do just that!

According to the rules of biblical exegesis we need to find at least two corroborating witnesses to prove any statement. Let's find some male temple cult prostitutes.

"None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute." (Deuteronomy 23:17)

"And there were also male cult prostitutes in the land. They did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel." (1 Kings 14:24)

"He also put away the male cult prostitutes from the land, and removed all the idols which his fathers had made." (1 Kings 15:12)

"He also broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes which were in the house of the LORD, where the women were weaving hangings for the Asherah." (2 Kings 23:7)

Four times the Bible refers to male temple cult prostitutes. Nowhere does it list any other prohibitions against male-to-male (or female-to-female) sex. According to the rules of exegesis, the point has been proven. Leviticus 18:22 refers to male temple cult prostitutes of old and not to today's homosexuals. (There is other evidence, such as the grouping of Leviticus 18, verses 21 through 24, and the subject matter of the entire chapter, but we have proven our point.)

Right-wing extremists are still unhappy because they consider today's religiosity and denominationalism as foundations for their kind of a church. Their main problem is they envision Christianity as more of a Canaanite fertility cult than worship of the Lord Jesus Christ. More of this and other topics in succeeding articles.


The Rev. Dr. James T. Kries is senior pastor and evangelist at Open Bible (Christian) Ministries. You can contact him via e-mail at Open2Bible@aol.com.

Copyright ©1999 Open Bible Ministries.


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Books:

What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality

Daniel A. Helminiak


Openly Gay, Openly Christian : A Gay-Friendly Approach to Scripture

Samuel Kader


Steps To Recovery From Bible Abuse

by Rembert Truluck



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