By Dr Lazarus Castang
To read this article in context, please read Jessica’s comments under my articles “Bible phobia and Homosexuality
” and “The Lord is my Shepherd and He knows that I am gay
First let me state the areas in which I am in agreement with Jessica Joseph.
1. People have used the Bible to promote hatred of homosexuals.
2. Interpretations of Scripture have been used to subjugate women, refuse medical treatment, abstain from voting or from serving in the military, prohibit women from teaching or having a career, excuse racism against black people, and for anti-miscegenation and sexism.
3. LGBT people are part of the human family and God’s family, and respected academic, medical, social, human rights, and child welfare authorities.
Dr Lazarus Castang is a licensed psychotherapist and an ordained SDA Minister of Religion. He holds a PhD in Old Testament, a Masters in Psychotherapy, and has completed studies in basic medical science. He has ministered to several communities in St Lucia, Barbados and the US and has provided therapy to individuals, couples and groups. He is a graduate of University of Southern Caribbean in Trinidad and Andrews University in Michigan. He has written two theological books and several articles on social relations. (email@example.com)
While I agree with her in these areas, notice her purpose is to defend homosexual practice indirectly. Implicitly, anti-homosexuality interpretations of the Bible are wrong by virtue of her associating it with numbers 1 and 2 above. But her approach is a diversion tactic that does not address the morality of homosexuality
Here is what she is subtly saying/assuming in her pro-homophile comments:
1) Interpretations of the Bible that favour homosexuality are scientific, up-to-date, contextual, and understanding of LGBT.
2) Historical/cultural reconstruction of the Bible by revisionists trumps traditional interpretation of the text.
3) The Bible has too many unobservable ritual laws and therefore is morally irrelevant to homosexuality.
4) Her liberal theology is the Bible, or better, superior to the Bible.
5) To condemn homosexuality is to condemn homosexuals. To accept homosexuality as moral is to accept homosexuals as persons and citizens with rights.
6) If the Bible is not a multidisciplinary compilation of current insights on the cosmos and human nature, then it is not universally authoritative and applicable in matters of faith and practice.
Again, her statements/presuppositions are only an attempted discrediting tactic that does not address the morality of homosexuality
Permit me now to deconstruct her literary mumbo jumbo. Here is an approximation of Jessica’s blanket unstated conclusion about Leviticus, Romans and Corinthians: The Bible neither affirms, nor condemns homosexual acts of consenting adult homosexuals; it only condemns same-sex sexual acts with boys (pederasty), by cult prostitutes and heterosexuals
. Methodologically, Jessica goes into secular history to determine the intent of the biblical writer and handpicks homosexual acts by heterosexuals and returns to the Bible to shape it accordingly to mean that only homosexual acts by heterosexuals, not by homosexuals, are condemned in the Bible. She makes orientation her point of departure concerning what is meant by “natural” in Romans and at the same time denies that the text deals with orientation.
Obviously, this whole hodge-podge argument represents a methodological flaw that sheds her interpretation of Scriptural controls and gives her free or selective reins/reign of interpretation. Unwittingly, such approach gives rise to two standards of sexual morality in the Bible. Heterosexuals are condemned for the same homosexual acts homosexuals are left un-condemned because of orientation. Orientation, not gender differences, is now the accepted prerequisite for sexual expression. But it must be noted that the Bible condemns homosexual (same-sex) acts whether engaged in by men or women, heterosexuals or homosexuals
Again, her methodology is an evasion tactic that does not address the morality of homosexuality
Jessica dismisses Leviticus18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination” as ritual anal sex between men, as among inapplicable Mosaic laws, including support for slavery and condemnation of usury. Here she bashes the Bible as irrelevant to the homosexuality she defends.
There are civil, ceremonial and moral laws in the Old Testament. There is nothing in the prohibition against homosexuality that points to or anticipates Christ, and the death penalty (Lev 20:13) required for its violation puts it in the moral realm like prohibiting incest, child sacrifice, idolatry, oppression of poor, slander and hatred. There are no references to the cult prostitution in the immediate text, and the act itself is an abomination to God.
Notice also that she accuses me of pulling a verse out of Leviticus when she only makes declarations/implications and slap a text alongside as evidence for biblical support of slavery or condemnation of usury. She alleges that Lev 25:44-45 support slavery. Lev 25:39-45 addressed a person who becomes so poor that he sold himself as a servant to a wealthier Israelite. He must still be accorded the dignity of a brother. As a worker he is to be treated as a hired servant (verse 40), not a slave. The person who hired him was responsible for the care of any immediate family (verse 41). Normally they went free in the seventh year. This regulation was intended to preserve the humanity and dignity of the poor or the debtor without allowing such persons to evade their social and financial responsibilities
Knowing only or giving partial information leads to wrong conclusions. Usury/interest was permitted on the foreigner, but not on a poor Israelite brother (Lev 25: 35-39; Deut 23:20). The laws were intended to protect the poor, not to suffocate business or corporate laws as we know it today.
On the contrary, nowhere does the Bible make a distinction between a good homosexuality for homosexuals and a bad homosexuality (acts) for heterosexuals based on orientation. The Bible only gives guidance to opposite-sex partners, never same-sex partners.
A heterosexual who sleeps sexually with a same-sex partner (homosexual or heterosexual) engages in homosexuality. A homosexual who sleeps sexually with a same-sex partner (homosexual or heterosexual) engages in homosexuality. It would be moral foolishness to argue that a heterosexual sins by sleeping with a homosexual for whom it is not sin because of the orientation of the latter. It is not only orientation (male exclusive sexual attraction to male) that defines homosexuality, same-sex sexual relations and practices also do. Homosexual orientation may imply a greater predisposition to homosexuality, but not an exclusive right to it or a moral legitimization of it
. Again, her interpretation is a divide-and-conquer tactic that does not address the morality of homosexuality
(Rom 1:26, 27) “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 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.”
The words, “the men
abandoned the natural function of the woman
,” show that what is natural (kata phusin
) is gender-based (man-woman), not orientation-based (homosexual-heterosexual). Plus, what is “unnatural” (para phusin
) is paralleled by “burned in their desire toward one another, men with men.” So same-sex sexual acts are unnatural from the creation order or the divine design. Therefore, the text is about women who exchange the natural function of the men and men who exchange the natural function of the woman for same-sex acts. Jessica seems to promote the fallacy that homosexuality is only by orientation, not by practice.
The text addresses homosexual acts/functions whither engaged in by men or women, no matter their orientation. Therefore, it is inconsistent for Jessica to say “sexual orientation had nothing to do with this,” and also say that “these men and women were NOT homosexual” then go on to assert heterosexuality. She cannot have it both ways.
Cultural/historical context informs the text, not dominates the text. The Bible must speak before and speak to the cultural/historical condition the divine author intends. The Bible must be consulted for the controls of interpretation. To just pluck temple prostitution and idolatry for condemnation, or assume that only the homosexuality-and-idolatry, not the homosexuality without idolatry is condemned is an unwarranted distinction Paul does not make.
Paul’s main background is Jewish, or better that of Hellenistic Judaism, but he addresses all humanity. He deals with the broad canvas of Creation, sin, Fall, and redemption. The book of Romans has a cosmic perspective and has a larger context of righteousness of God (Rom 1:17-18). Paul is condemning more than cultic prostitution, he is condemning the very attitudes of sinners in relation to God that rebelliously manifest itself in idolatry, homosexuality, and a list of other sins (Rom 1:29-31). Sins are condemned and supports of those sins also, like Jessica’s pro-homophile propaganda (Rom 1:32).
Again, her conclusions represent a conscious or subconscious divide-and-conquer tactic that does not address the morality of homosexuality
For Jessica to call divine judicial execution, genocide Numbers 31:15-18; ritual cleansing with bird’s blood, an intended cure for an infection of Mycobacterium lepromatosis (Leviticus 14:2-52) and to argue that the biblical writers saw male and female in rigid, simplistic ways designed to support their patriarchal, imperial societies and also say that the Bible is not being bashed is duplicitous to the nth degree. It is at once a cultural bias and intellectual arrogance that attempt to exalt our contemporary liberal, secular, permissive and dog-eat-dog society over ancient Semitic conservative civilization. But again, her arguments are only an attempted discrediting tactic that does not address the morality of homosexuality.
There is serious spiritual danger in making practicing homosexuals feel spiritually secure in their sin. This leads to unrepentance and false comfort. May God open the eyes of our understanding that we may know Him, whom to know is life eternal (John 17:3).