March 2, 2009

Old, Old, REALLY Old Sex

Posted in church, culture, history, marriage, politics, scripture at 12:49 pm by Jerry

Here’s an article sent to me that I thought worth posting. I’ve quoted passages that I think are particularly valuable for someone who is about to read biblical passages used to condemn homosexuality…

Providing a Historical Context

Biblical writers had no concept of sexual orientation or sexual development as we understand those today. Therefore, passages that reference same-sex sexual activity should not been seen as comprehensive statements concerning homosexuality, but instead should be viewed in the context of what the ancient world that produced the Bible understood about sexual activity…

..Biblical scholars have employed the social sciences to study the relational and gender patterns of the ancient Mediterranean world—the world that produced the Bible. Professor Mary Tolbert summarizes that research with the following words:

The single most important concept that defines sexuality in the ancient Mediterranean world, whether we are talking about the kingdoms of Egypt or of Assyria or whether we are talking about the later kingdoms of Greece and Rome, is that approved sexual acts never occurred between social equals. Sexuality, by definition, in ancient Mediterranean societies required the combination of dominance and submission. This crucial social and political root metaphor of dominance and submission as the definition of sexuality rested upon a physical basis that assumed every sex act required a penetrator and someone who was penetrated. Needless to say, this definition of sexuality was entirely male—not surprising in the heavily patriarchal societies of the Mediterranean.

Genesis 19

This story is not a condemnation of homosexuality, but is a story about rape and inhospitality. In other biblical texts (Ezekiel 16:49, Luke 17:28-29) Sodom’s ‘sin’ is not identified as homosexuality, rather, their sins were pride, failure to help the poor, and lack of hospitality to foreigners.

Leviticus 18:22; 20:13

this prohibition in Leviticus was an attempt to preserve the internal harmony of Jewish male society by not allowing them to participate in anal intercourse as a form of expressing or gaining social and political dominance. These verses in no way prohibit, nor do they even speak, to loving, caring sexual relationships between people of the same gender.

Romans 1:26-27

The “natural intercourse” of that day which Paul was referring to was “among unequals with the dominant partner always an adult male.”

In other words, all of today’s sexual acts between partners of equal status would be considered “unnatural” to biblical writers. Male and female may have been considered spiritually equal before God in the first century, but when it came to sex.. equal status was a sin.

So for all heterosexual wives in today’s church who think the private lives of our contemporary society should only have sexual practices in the biblical sense, I ask you, “Will you welcome others to judge whether your husband is truly dominant over you, greater in public and private status?”


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