A Six-Pack of Biblical Gay Affirmation : The Clobber Passages Revisited

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In the biblical book of Hosea, chapter four, the writer experiences God speaking, “My people are being destroyed from a lack of knowledge.”

It’s interesting to me that God doesn’t say, “Hey, you know what? It’s because of sin that you’re being destroyed.” The text doesn’t even say it’s because of temptation, not even because of Beyonce’. No, the writer experiences God declaring, “it’s all about your ignorance.”

Interesting, very interesting.

So here we are with the issue of homosexuality.

No surprise, this is a topic that has been baked in a good bit of ignorance. And I, once a willing cook in the kitchen of bad theology, and even worse… bigotry.

That all changed, however, when I revisited the Bible with a new heart, and with new experience and information.

I pray that process happens for you.

There are a mere six passages in the Bible that specifically deal with the issue of homosexuality. I’m going to deal with five of them; line by line, verse by verse. One passage is basically a repeat of another (Lev. 18:22, 20:13).

Some people call these verses the six “clobber” passages because people use them to clobber homosexuals and homosexuality declaring, “See, it’s clear as day, black and white. God hates homosexual. Homosexuals are sinners. They’re all going to fry in hell.”

Good times for sure.

Yet, the very passages so many want to use to condemn homosexuality, I believe are actually a six-pack of biblical, gay affirmation.

Yup, a six-pack of heaven-crafted, delicious, biblical gay affirmation. Intoxicating, with God-authored freedom and validation. Detoxifying, with truth and fresh revelation.

So, belly on up and drink it in…

Bottle One : Sodom and Gomorrah Summer Ale

Genesis 19. It’s a sad story. A story about a guy named Lot.

There’s a backdrop to this.

Lot is Abraham’s nephew, and Abraham and Lot became very successful. They acquire all kinds of cattle, herds, and people. Bucket loads of stuff. Soon, they realize that sticking together was getting to be too complicated. Running into each other, conflicts emerged.

So, Abraham spoke up one day and said “Listen Lot, we need to go different directions here. I love you, but we’re just on top of each other.” Abraham, being a humble guy, continues “Look at the horizon Lot, pick a spot. You go there, and I’ll take what’s left.”

Lot gazes his eyes upon the cities of the plains, which are Sodom and Gomorrah.

Soon after, he enters into Sodom and Gomorrah and quickly realizes it’s a pretty nasty place. The people are clearly in significant violation of some of the most important ethical and moral issues of that Hebraic context… hospitality, gluttony, and arrogance.

About this same time, God visits Abraham and whispers, “Hey Abe, I need to clue you in a bit about something that I’m probably going to be doing here. That city, where Lot is hanging out, their lack of hospitality, all their arrogance and self-centeredness. I’ve got to end this thing.”

Abraham responds, “Hey God, could you hold off here, give Lot a heads up?” After some discourse, they finally come to an agreement where God sends a couple angels into Sodom and Gomorrah to let Lot know what’s about to happen.

That’s where we pick up the story…

“That evening the two angels arrived in Sodom, while Lot was sitting near the city gate. When Lot saw them, he got up, bowed down low, 2 and said “Gentlemen, I am your servant. Please come to my home. You can wash your feet, spend the night, and be on your way in the morning.”

Right off the bat, a big deal to the Hebrew moral code was the issue of hospitality. Probably the most important, ethical issue of the day. Lot is trying to honor this tenant .

They told him, “No, we’ll spend the night in the city square.” 3 But Lot kept insisting, until they finally agreed and went home with him. He baked some bread, cooked a meal, and they ate. 4 Before Lot and his guests could go to bed, every man in Sodom, young and old, came and stood outside his house 5 and started shouting, “Where are your visitors? Send them out, so we can have sex with them!”

Did you read it… “Every man in Sodom?”

Now let’s just use our brains for a second. You can be sure “every man” was not homosexual in orientation. Our national percentage here in modern 2015 is less than two percent.

But this isn’t about percentages, this isn’t about homosexuality, this isn’t about heterosexuality, it’s about something much larger. Read the text, this isn’t an invitation to engage in mutual, consensual sex. No, this is all about one thing, and one thing only… gang rape.

“6 Lot went outside and shut the door behind him.  7 Then he said, “Friends, please don’t do such a terrible thing!”

A “terrible” thing? Why is this terrible? Because this has nothing to do with consensual sex, or even sex at all. It has everything to do with malicious, victimizing, violent rape. That’s why.

8 I have two daughters who have never been married. I’ll bring them out, and you can do what you want with them. But don’t harm these men. They are guests in my home.”

It’s so amazing to me what we have done with this story. Somehow, we have made it all about homosexuality, which it is not, and overlooked the obvious corruption of Lot, who is willing to hand over his two daughters to be gang raped.

Are you kidding me? Handing your daughters over to be gang raped?

Sadly, when people typically think of Sodom and Gomorrah, they never think about that. In fact, when Lot and his daughters depart out of the city, they decide to repay their father and rape him. Nice, right? Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth… rape for rape.

See, this is not about homosexuality, this is about harm. This is about rape, this is about sexual violence.

The evil aggression is dripping off the pages…

9 “Don’t get in our way,” the crowd answered. “You’re an outsider. What right do you have to order us around? We’ll do worse things to you than we’re going to do to them.”

Here again, these violent demands to commit violent rape are coming from all the men of Sodom, not the gay community. And certainly, this is not a consensual arrangement being desired. No chance, no way.

“The crowd kept arguing with Lot. Finally, they rushed toward the door to break it down.10 But the two angels in the house reached out and pulled Lot safely inside. 11 Then they struck everyone in the crowd blind, and none of them could even find the door. 12-13 The two angels said to Lot, “The Lord has heard many terrible things about the people of Sodom, and he has sent us here to destroy the city. Take your family and leave. Take every relative you have in the city, as well as the men your daughters are going to marry.”

For God, when He hears the name Sodom, He has an entire list of “terrible things” in mind. Yet, interestingly, on that list is not homosexuality.

In fact, Ezekiel 16:49 declares, “Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.”

“Overfed,” are you kidding me?

We Christians, who for many of us, our favorite past time is to stuff our faces at the local Golden Corral to the point of chosen obesity after Sunday morning preaching. Seriously? We are looking for a condemnation of homosexuality in this passage that just isn’t there, while completely turning a blind eye to the “overfed” sin that God makes clear is certainly there.

This is not a text about homosexuality, especially homosexual orientation.

This is passage about the condemnation of violent sexual behavior. A condemnation of evil, father-daughter relationships. This is a story about the breaking of strict, cultural rules of hospitality.

That’s the context, that’s the issue. Nothing more, nothing less.

In fact, when Jesus spoke of Sodom and Gomorrah, He did so to the disciples stating that if one goes into a town and people don’t receive them into their homes, it would be better for Sodom and Gomorrah on that day of judgment than it will be for the inhospitable. When Jesus, four times in the Gospels contextualizes the issue of Sodom and Gomorrah, He never mentions homosexuality. Rather, over and over again, He highlights the critical issue of hospitality.

The men of Sodom and Gomorrah were not homosexually orientated, loving men. They were men who gathered outside Lot’s door, leaving their natural, heterosexual orientation to rape people as an act of humiliation and emasculation.

This a story of deviant heterosexual males who were hell-bent on humiliating strangers by treating them as women. The evil desires of those men had nothing to do with genuine love being expressed between members of the same sex.

Dr. Richard Haynes of Duke University, who is actually anti-gay, says the following…

“The Sodom story is actually irrelevant to the topic of homosexuality. The attempted gang rape in Genesis 19 shows the depravity of the Canaanite people who lived in the cities of the plain but there is nothing in the passage pertinent to a judgment about the morality of consensual homosexual intercourse.” Dr. Richard Hayes –Duke University

Bottle Two : Leviticus Lager of 18:22

“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female: it is an abomination.” Leviticus 18:22

So here we are in Leviticus. Don’t be afraid, drink it in…

The scholarship yields overwhelming, affirming evidence.

The biblical, ancient, near Eastern context, as best we can investigate, was not familiar in any way shape or form with homosexuality in the sense of a defined sexual orientation a person embodies intrinsically. In the biblical assertion that “a man shall not lie with a man as one lies with a woman” the disapproving assumption was, a man would leave his natural attraction towards a woman and emasculate another man.

Here again, this text is about a forced act of humiliation and revenge. Not homosexuality.

In fact, there is am entire holiness code at play here.

If you keep reading further in Leviticus, (most stop after reading this singular verse) not only is the act of “a male lying with a male as with a woman” articulated as unorthodox, but all sexual acts that do not lead to procreation are declared an abomination.

Ruh, roh Scooby.

The Hebrew understanding of the time was that the male seed contained everything needed for human life. No knowledge of eggs or ovulation. It was assumed within the culture that a woman only provided the incubating space.

This was once an Aristotelian world where he, one of the most brilliant minds of the millennia before Christ, suggested that a male seed exclusively produced a male being. Where did women come from? The same place that malformations came from. Genetic syndromes, those are all cousins to a female. Aristotle suggests that a male produces a male, but sometimes things go awry and a female is born.

Folks, this is the context here. And if you take a text out of its context, you can make a con out of the text. To waste of male seed during a menstrual cycle, engage in autoeroticism. All was equivalent to murder because of the wasting of the male seed.

Yet, if you still believe this passage is somehow addressing homosexuality, of which Moses and the Leviticus code had no knowledge. It doesn’t even mention female-to-female activity. Why? Here again, homosexuality is not the issue. Moses knew nothing of this, as we do today.

In fact, if you believe this Leviticus stuff somehow addresses homosexuality, then you have to believe it all the way. So when later, the Leviticus code dictates that all kinds of like behaviors are punishable with death. Now you are going to have to jump on board with ISIS to align with this interpretive thinking.

But, let me suggest, before you start killing all the homosexual people you believe this passage is addressing, you are going to be dead yourself. These same passages forbid many sexual practices and declare them to be punishable by death. Practices that are very likely accepted and practiced by you. Yes, you.

One example. If a bride was found not to be a virgin before marriage, you simply brought her parents up on charges, as women were seen as property. She was taken to the city gate and stoned… to death.

Now let me ask you, how many homosexual condemning females are out there who have had sex before marriage? How many homosexual condemning husbands are out there whose wives were not virgins at marriage?

Need I say more.

If you are looking for a condemnation of homosexuality, you are going to have to belly up to a different bar.

Drink it in, Leviticus Lager of 18:12.

A condemnation of homosexuality? It’s just not there.

Bottle Three : Romans Imperial Stout

1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; 32 and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

Now even if you just skimmed this passage, it’s obvious that within these verses is contained a long list of problems. Yet, many Christians, when they think of Romans 1, conveniently dismiss issues like gossip or slander, or any of the other many behaviors listed. Rather, this passage has become the biggest clobber text of those who desire to condemn one thing and one thing alone… homosexuality as a sin.

Yet ironically, Paul does not even begin to indicate the issue of homosexual orientation or homosexuality. We know from history that Paul didn’t have any sense or knowledge of the idea and reality of homosexual orientation.

In fact, if you know any gay people, you know that as early as they can remember, they didn’t choose their homosexuality. With tears running down their eyes, they beg to be understood, “Why would I ever choose this, in such a hateful world, why would I ever want to be gay?”

Some committing suicide, others dealing with severe depression. The hell that we have brought upon so many with this passage (and others) from Scripture is disgusting at best.

Folks, homosexuality isn’t an issue, it’s not a debate, it’s people. Living, breathing people. Beautifully and wonderfully made… gay. No choice, no sin, no different than the color of your skin.

Paul had no reference for homosexuality, for homosexual orientation, or for romantic love between two people of the same sex. None.

In fact, it was Paul, in a pre-scientific world, that reported he had an experience where he went up into the “third heaven.” Yet, we know now, that reality does not exist. Paul however didn’t, because he had no reference for that. It was a different day, in a different time.

Paul once acknowledged…

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way.” 2 Corinthians 5:16

Paul is admitting that he not only once understood Christ incorrectly, he confesses that he also misunderstood humanity. Am I making a case to discredit Paul? No, but rather showing that contextually, this was a much different time with a much different window to the world.

What Paul is doing in this Romans text is simple. He is condemning those with a heterosexual orientation, which came “naturally” to them, who were acting in homosexual ways.

The text says plainly and clearly, they “exchanged, gave up.” You can’t exchange or give up what you don’t already have… heterosexuality. Their set, disposed, natural orientation… they exchanged that for homosexual acts. They went beyond their heterosexuality, out of power, hate, anger, or lust and acted homosexually.

Paul new nothing of people who for them, “leaving” would mean leaving their natural homosexual attraction to exchange it for heterosexual attraction.

I don’t know about you, but I have many gay friends.

Some have asked, “Chris, when did you decide to be heterosexual?” “How would you like me to read you Romans 1 and then ask you to exchange your heterosexuality for homosexuality?” “Go over Chris and hold that man’s hand and kiss his lips. Do it, turn the switch, flip it over. And if you can’t, you are the evil, God hater of which this passage is speaking.”

In fact, in 1 Corinthians 11, Paul, using the same term “unnatural,” said it was unnatural for a woman to cut her hair and pray without a head covering, and for a man to have long hair. He said it was “unnatural,” the same term he used in Romans 1.

Yet, apparently we are very approving of those things now.

Paul later said it was “unnatural” that the Gentiles be included in the church. Really? You know who the Gentiles are, don’t you? You and me.

With new information, revelation, and experience, Paul realized on several occasions, in regards to some very important spiritual matters, he was wrong. Flat out, wrong.

But even if you still believe somehow Paul is condemning homosexuality, you better keep reading.

For the point of Romans 1 was to describe the evils of a Roman world. Even calling out an unspoken referencing to people like Gaius Caligula who, along with others, practiced most everything on the list of evils in the text. Additionally, making a reference to the Levitical list Paul’s Jewish audience would have known.

Yet, the Romans 1 passage goes on, referring the reader back to this long list of atrocities…

“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things.” Romans 2:1-2

Yes, you read it correctly. By our judging of anyone whom we think is on that list, we are actually practicing those very same things. That, my friends, is what you become.

Don’t you just hate it when the Bible gets in the way of our self-righteous, condemnation.

In fact, there is a real sense that when we ask gay people to leave their natural homosexuality and exchange it for heterosexuality, we are admonishing them to do the very “unnatural” thing this passage declares as evil and terrible.

Take a moment, and drink all that in.

Bottle Four : Corinthians Chocolate Porter

“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals.” -1 Corinthians 6:8

Bottle Five : Saint Timothy IPA

“9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 and immoral men and homosexuals and kidnappers and liars and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.”   -1Timothy 1:9-11

The words here in both passages (above) that have been translated as “homosexual’ is the Greek word “arsenokoites.”

This is a hard word to translate to say the least. So difficult, that overtime the treatment of this word has moved from translation to interpretation.

In fact, this word “arsenokoites” is so complicated that before 1946, no Bible translation had ever translated this word to read “homosexual.” I’ll give you a second to try pick up your jaw.

Before 1946, the word “homosexual” was not even in the Bible. No place, no where.

Only starting in the mid-20th century, several translations of 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10 were changed to read “homosexuals” will not “inherit the kingdom of God.”

A clear move from a translation to an interpretation.

In fact, the word “homosexual” wasn’t even an actual word until the middle 1800’s.

The word “arsenokoites,” many new testament scholars agree, is rarely used even in secular writings, and does not refer to homosexuality, nor even homosexual activity.

Martin Luther, the Church reformer, translated these same passages to mean “boy abusers.” He understood “arsenokoites” as a reference to pedophilia.

In fact, before 1945, nearly every bible translation interpreted “arsenokoites” as something to do with prostitution, pedophilia, and the like.

Even the KJV did not translate “arsenokoites” as homosexuality, but rather in terms of elite, oversexed men abusing themselves with boys, girls, or animals. It was a practice widely accepted by rulers and ruling men of the day.

Therefore, through the use of these two passages, Paul is bringing a strong condemnation on primarily elite men, who had never been confronted before, for leaving what is natural to them and sexually abusing just about anything they could find. Primarily, pedophilia.

And let me tell you, there is a big difference between pedophilia and homosexuality.

If you knew the kind of sexual practices that were going on during Paul’s time in the Greco Roman world, it was disgusting. Old, perverted men were treating boys like pigs.

The people of this day didn’t have a heterosexual, homosexual perspective. It wasn’t them over here, and those over there. No, they had a heterosexual context where people exchanged that orientation and used acts of homosexuality to overpower with domination, humiliation, slavery, rape, and temple prostitution.

We should all praise God for condemning those deplorable acts, but we have today with homosexuality, is completely and utterly not the same.

And because of this, in recent years, many New Testament scholars have been pushing back against these translations. All because this word “arsenokoites” being translated to mean “homosexual” isn’t a translation, it’s a blatant, biased interpretation.

Drink it in…

Same-sex relationships, based on orientation, between equal-status partners weren’t on the radar screen at all. Neither the word “homosexual” nor the concept it represents existed when the Bible was written.

It is high time we recognize, like Paul and others were willing to do so, we got it wrong.

“My people are being destroyed from a lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6

Drink it in, drink it all in…

Sodom and Gomorrah Summer Ale

Leviticus Lager of 18:22 (20:13)

Romans Imperial Stout

Corinthians Chocolate Porter

Saint Timothy IPA

…a six pack of biblical, gay affirmation.

Stay thirsty my friends.

Stay thirsty.

12 Comments

  1. Thank you. I can’t begin to understand theology. You are such a blessing to me!

  2. I have heard similar explanations, sometimes from people who are gay. I have been told that it is just gay people finding an excuse in twisting Scripture to suit themselves and justify how they live. But here you are a straight, married pastor making a clear case for the absurdity of interpreting the “clobber passages” as condemning homosexuality. Thank you. Bless you for your valuable support of LBGTQ folk.

  3. Chris. Having heard your sermon and now reading this blog brings clarity to these passages. I really enjoy drinking in your writing.

    • ckratzer

      December 13, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Thanks Paul, you are awesome!

      • KAYLEE BURRIS

        June 8, 2016 at 1:10 am

        CKratzer why is it some of your postings won’t display? I.E.-Why Modern Christianity Makes People Vomit ,What if you’re Wrong? A Question for Every Anti-Gay Person, Pastor, Father, Mother, Friend. What if you’re Wrong? A Question for Every Anti-Gay Person, Pastor, Father, Mother, Friend.
        Are they blocked for some reason? I was looking forward to reading them.

  4. First, I want to say I love you brother. The terrible thing about posting in a comments section is that no one can pick up on the auditory or visual cues inherent in communication. I love the heart you have to love everyone. That is lacking in the Church today sorely.

    Onto the hard part. I’m only going to address two points here. I pray you will understand that I’m not attacking you here. I pray you won’t attack either.

    The point of Leviticus 18:22 you’ve made doesn’t take into account Leviticus 20:13. In this, it says not to lie with a man as you would a woman, and that both men caught in this act were to be put to death. Now, if this was rape, as you’re asserting, why are both men to be killed? In Deuteronomy 22:26 is says a raped woman has committed no offense. Why has a raped man committed offense? I would contest that the assertion that Leviticus 18:22 deals with rape hasn’t taken the entire Torah into context.

    My other point is about Paul not having any concept of love between members of the same sex the way we do. This is historically irresponsible. The ancient Greeks did not believe women were intellectually capable of love. You didn’t go to your wife for love. She was little more than cattle. We get wrapped up in women submitting to their husbands (as to the Lord) as radical, and we completely miss that to the original audience, men loving their wives was even more radical. Greeks married women to have children, raise children, and look after the home. That’s why it was so insane that Pericles actually loved his wife. Men simply didn’t look to women for love and companionship. They believed that only men were intellectually capable of those things. I would assert that Paul, far from not understanding emotional love between men, actually probably understood it far better than we do.

    Just as a side note, Paul actually affirmed women when he told them to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. Those last 4 words are the clue. In their culture, women were supposed to submit to anything the husband wanted. No questions. Paul told them to submit “as to the Lord”. In other words, wives, submit to your husbands when they are asking things that Christ would ask of you. If it isn’t Christ-like, you have the right to say no. Radical in that culture.

    Again, I love you. I simply disagree with some of your assertions here. Please don’t feel attacked. That is not my intent here at all, and that is not the spirit in which these words were typed.

    • I should have said “historically inaccurate”, not “irresponsible”. Irresponsible carries negative connotations, and I sincerely apologize for that.

  5. Michael Eric Hund

    December 28, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Thank you, Chris, first for the act of publicly sharing your thoughts in your postings, and, more importantly, for the love in action you show within your posts.

    I also want to thank you specifically for the quote “My people are being destroyed from a lack of knowledge.” Hosea 4:6.

    There is just so much wrapped up in Hosea about losing our understanding of the love and empathy of the one true God with us, and for us, that we should be sharing with one another; as we chase about instead for experiences directed toward our own personal gain.

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