Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Chapter About Homosexuality 3

Since I've been getting email notifications via my Borders Reward account announcing "free wifi" at Borders stores starting in October, I thought I would give it a try.  I had to pick Beth up from work at I went up an hour early expecting to sip a cup of their oh so strong coffee while cruising the net. To my disappointment, the Borders I frequent not only has no FREE wifi....but still has no wifi at all. 

So I looked through some of the documents I have saved on my flash drive in the "Homosexuality" folder. I saved some of these documents quite a while ago.  As I've mentioned, I've "researched" this topic several times over the past ten years or so.  Not an all out investigative effort...but with enough thoroughness to come to the conclusion that the commonly held Christian view of homosexuality could very well be (and most likely is) a sacred cow that needs tipping.  At the very least it is not in a special category of sin.  It is not the ultimate abomination in the eyes of God.  Non promiscuous, monogamous homosexual relationships do not strike me as an abomination.  How do I get around what the Bible "says"??

I am a Universalist....a Christian Universalist.  I realize there are verses in scripture that SEEM to say there is a hell....a hot everlasting hell.  Yet...if those verses are dissected, if meanings of the the Greek and Hebrew words are understood, if the verses are taken in context with some understanding of the times and the customs of that time period, the Bible declares no such thing as an eternal hell. I think a very similar case can be made for the verses that condemn homosexuality.  Hasn't the Bible also been used to justify slavery?  It has been used....and in many circles is still being prevent women from full participation in the ministry.  I think homosexuality may be the next stronghold to crumble.  I hope it is. 

In this post...and probably the next few posts, I am going to take a brief look at some of the verses/arguments used to clobber homosexuals. 


But WHAT did He REALLY say?  That is the big question.

The article I read last night is from the Rainbow Alliance web site.  The article is called Cultic Temple Prostitutes and Homosexuality - A Christian Hoax?

It quotes from a book entitled The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology by Mark D Jordan.

The link leads to a limited preview on google books. Looks quite thorough. 

Also...check out Jordan's bio.

Mark D. Jordan, a renowned and wide-ranging scholar whose academic interests include the varieties of theological rhetoric, the performance of religious identities, Christian teachings on sex, and the work of Thomas Aquinas, has been appointed as the first Richard Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School. He will take up the new post in January 2009, moving to Harvard from Emory University, where he has been Asa Griggs Candler Professor since 1999.

Although today's post is getting quite wordy, I am still going to copy and paste a rather longish excerpt from the Cultic Temple article...more on all of this in my next post....

The KJV mistranslations I mentioned earlier are of the Hebrew term "quadesh" (male), "quadeshah" (female).  This term refers to cultic temple prostitutes, probably connected with the rather prevalent worship of Ashtart found generally throughout the Semitic world at that time.  Ashtart was known by a number of similar names, Ashtart, Asherah, Ishtar, Astarte, etc.  Ashtart was the consort of Baal. 

First a bit of background.  The Bible itself tells us that Ashtart (Asherah, etc.) was worshiped even in temple of Jerusalem for about 2/3 of the time it stood.

1 Kings 14:21-24 Solomon's son Rehoboam was forty-one years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which the Lord had chosen from all the territory of Israel as the place where he was to be worshiped. Rehoboam's mother was Naamah from Ammon. The people of Judah sinned against the Lord and did more to arouse his anger against them than all their ancestors had done. They built places of worship for false gods and put up stone pillars and symbols of Asherah to worship on the hills and under shady trees. Worst of all, there were men and women who served as prostitutes at those pagan places of worship. The people of Judah practiced all the shameful things done by the people whom the Lord had driven out of the land as the Israelites advanced into the country.

2 Chronicles 33:1-6
Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king of Judah, and he ruled in Jerusalem for fifty-five years. Following the disgusting practices of the nations whom the Lord had driven out of the land as his people advanced, Manasseh sinned against the Lord. He rebuilt the pagan places of worship that his father Hezekiah had destroyed. He built altars for the worship of Baal, made images of the goddess Asherah, and worshiped the stars. He built pagan altars in the Temple, the place that the Lord had said was where he should be worshiped forever. In the two courtyards of the Temple he built altars for the worship of the stars. He sacrificed his sons in Hinnom Valley as burnt offerings. He practiced divination and magic and consulted fortunetellers and mediums. He sinned greatly against the Lord and stirred up his anger.

The Book of Kings describes the removal of the artifacts and courtesans of Astarte worship from the temple.

1 KINGS 22:46
He (Jehoshephat) got rid of all the male and female prostitutes who were left in the land from the time of his father Asa. 

2 KINGS 23:7
He destroyed the living quarters in the Temple occupied by the Temple prostitutes.

Now back to the Hebrew term 'quadesh' 'quadeshah' …

In the Zodhiates HEBREW-GREEK KEY STUDY BIBLE, you find the following,

"It [the masculine form] means a consecrated one, a devoted one, a sacred person; a devotee to a licentious idolatry, a cultic prostitute or priest of Astarte..."

Zodhiates goes on to define the feminine form thusly, "It means harlot, whore, sacred temple prostitute.  Prostitution received official sanction from the Canaanite religion which made reproduction part of its summum bonum.  As in India today, at the Holi festival, there were seasons of sexual orgy associated with Astarte.  The temple precincts became an inglorious brothel..."

The 1611 King James Version of the Bible contains a rather stunning mistranslation of the male form, "quadesh".  When studied in context, it is hard to imagine that the error was due to ignorance or simple error.  It appears to be deliberate.

Deut: 23:17 uses both the male and female forms of the term "quadesh".  The KJV translates them as follows: There shall be no whore [quadeshah] of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite [quadesh] of the sons of Israel. 

The more modern and accurate NIV translates the passage this way, "No Israelite, man or woman, is to become a shrine prostitute."

The KJV rendering of two entirely different meanings of the same word root is nonsensical. It is so nonsensical it is difficult to accept the possibility it could be an innocent error. 
There are others as well.  Among them:

1 Kings 15:12
KJV: "And he took away the sodomites [quadesh] out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made."
NIV: "He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his fathers had made."

The KJV translation is not only a stunningly inaccurate translation of the word "quadesh,", but in this instance it breaks up the continuity of thought within the sentence. It is another gross error.  How could it have been accidental or irresponsible?


The Hebrew term "toevah" is found in the oft-quoted verses of Lev. 18 and 20. It is one of a number of terms translated to "abomination" in English. And it seems to be the favorite verse of those who use the Bible to justify prejudice and discrimination against homosexuals.

The Canaanite god of the sun, Baal and his consort, the fertility goddess Ashtart (Ashtoreth, etc.)  were commonly worshipped in the area.  The term "toevah" appears throughout the Law to denounce idolatrous practices. In fact it is used over 100 times in the Old Testament in the context of idolatrous practices. Temple prostitutes participated in the worship of the fertility god "Baal" on an altar-like bed. The incident at Baal-Peor (Numbers 25) was about idolatry with Baal prostitutes, not mere sex. The cult temple prostitutes had sex with anyone who paid money and worshipped Baal, whether man or woman. It's nothing more than political dishonesty to define a cult prostitute as a homosexual.

We are told three times that the laws set forth in Leviticus chapters 18-20 are to prevent the Israelite priests from engaging in the religious practices of the Egyptians and Canaanites (18:2-3; 18:24; 20:23). Chapter 20 even begins with a discussion of the god Molech, who was worshiped in Canaan.

Leviticus reserves other terms such as "zimah" to refer to immorality or sin. For instance it is used in the references to rape, incest and child sexual abuse.
Clearly the Levitican passages made a distinction between things that were immoral and/or sinful (zimah
) and things that involved idolatry.

And the following excerpt from the article seems to be expressing, in more detail and with scriptural references, what Peggy Campolo believes.  Paul was not speaking out against monogomous, same sex relationships but against temple prostitution. 

There can be little disagreement that the early Christians were concerned about the competing religions. Many texts that we have from Christians of the first few centuries represent documents explaining the deficits and evils of the other religions. The many texts quoted above attest to the fact that not only were the church fathers aware of the goddess religions, but were confronted with them to the extent that they dedicated several specific attacks on them in their writings. This isn't surprising, given the popularity and influence of the religions on the Greek and Roman cultures.
That Paul would have been familiar with the goddess religions seems inescapable. Temples and shrines to Cybele, Artemis, Venus/Aphrodite, Astarte, and others were scattered densely around the region of Paul's upbringing and missionary travels (Asia Minor, Greece, Cyprus, etc.). Vermaseren describes (via Pausanias) the area surrounding Corinth.  'First there were two shrines of Isis and two more of Serapis; then there were altars of Helios and a sanctuary of Ananke and Bia. Above this there stood a temple of the Mother of the Gods with a stele and a marble throne.'[M. J. Vermaseren, Cybele and Attis: The Myth and the Cult]
As Jeremy Townsley shows us in Paul, the Goddess Religions and Homosexuality, Paul's letter to the Romans most certainly describes one of the non-Christian religions of the area.

Rom 21-22: They claimed to be wise but were foolish:
The galli [eunuch priests of Cybele] claimed to tell people's fortunes, but everybody thought they were mad due to their frenzied dancing and self-mutilation. The Greek texts describe the "mania" of their rituals.

Rom 23: They made images of man and animals to worship:
The Cybele/Attis temple statues were primarily of Attis and/or Cybele, who were typically surrounded by images of other animals, particularly lions, birds and snakes. In addition, these temples were often filled with birds, because the galli believed they were too holy to touch, to chase them away.

Rom 26-27: They exchanged natural relations, etc:
One of the primary goals of the galli was to remove gender differences. This occurred through transvestitism, physically cutting off one's genitals and the exchange of sexual roles. The male galli would serve sexually "as women" to male worshippers in the temple. Women had sex with men (and possibly with other women), but in order to avoid pregnancy, they would have anal sex, not vaginal, as indicated by early church writers such as Anastasius, Clement of Alexandria, Augustine, and two apocalyptic texts.

Christianity has a long history of trying to make the case that the many Biblical condemnations of cultic temple prostitution are condemnations of homosexuality.  Although the work of numerous scholars has corrected the errors, the message just isn't getting out. Too many Christians have adopted a "KJV Only" mentality and refuse to benefit from advances in knowledge made over the last 400 years.  Even more Christians find that the errors serve as very convenient excuses for the promotion of hatred and discrimination.   

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