Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Fun with Christians III

Let me just start out by saying this: I apparently need a hobby. Very, very badly.

I have started trolling innocent blogs.

OK, to be honest, they aren't that innocent. They're conservative Christian websites, loaded with the stink of smug superiority exclusive to the self-satisfied hypocrite with a ready-made group of victims to look down on. And I wasn't really trolling, as such, since I was on-topic, and merely waited for them to post something saying that "homosexuality is a sin." And, really, I can't say that I've started doing that, since I tend to chime in with annoying chunks of reality whenever I run across somebody being stupid.

So, really, in the larger sense, the only true parts of that sentence involved the fact that I did it (whatever it was), and that whatever it was that I did, I did it on other blogs.

OK, maybe I started this whole thing out badly. Let me back up, and I'll see if I can start making sense. Wouldn't that be a nice change?

Some time ago, I was skimming through some of the various blogs I like to read, and I happened upon a post on Adult Christianity which I found fascinating.

Let me just put in an unrequested plug: I first found Adult Christianity because I happened upon MissPoppy.com, the best place for religious, irreligious, and anti-religious swag in the world (and yes, it has all three - just thumb around in there for a while; you'll see what I mean). In the fullness of time, I learned of her blog, and have been reading it ever since.

Anyway, the article which I found so fascinating (and which doesn't seem to be on her Blogspot mirror - maybe I just missed it) is entitled "One More Article Explaining That The Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality." It took a number of ideas that I was already familiar with, one piece of brilliant scholarship, and a number of lesser ideas which were cleverly put together, and melded them into a beautiful, logical whole.

I was entranced. Specifically with her main thesis (which I used as my central thesis in my initial foray into Christian Logic), that two famously homophobic verses from the Bible are simple translation errors. Specifically:
Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. (Leviticus 18:22)

If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (Leviticus 20:13)
See, in the Ancient Hebrew, the verb for "to lie with" used on the "mankind" side of that equation is shakab, and the verb used on the "womankind" side is mishkab. And in the primitive, 30,000-word vocabulary of Ancient Hebrew, it makes no sense to decide that they would have two words with exactly the same meaning.

So what Miss Poppy Dixon did, in a burst of (as I said earlier) brilliant scholarship, was to go through the Ancient Hebrew books of the Bible and count the number of uses of each word (in the original tongue, not the translation), and then consider the usage of each. This simple exercise pointed out the fact that shakab, in the sexual sense, refers to non-consensual coitus (or, to put it bluntly, rape).

Incidentally, I wrote Miss Poppy to thank her for her brilliance, and to be sure that she didn't mind me using her work, and... well, for just being her. Her response was as follows:
Oh, I'm always so afraid to open a post with the subject line "homosexuality," and rehearse in my mind my standard reply, "Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me," but this time I need not have feared.

I appreciate your writing, and even more so your quoting me. I am no scholar. I just spent a couple of hours with a blue letter Bible and put the thing together.

Thanks for linking to me, and for fighting the good fight. It's an important message.

Miss Poppy
So, two things.

1. Despite her erudition, Miss Poppy is not actually aware of the meaning of the word "scholar." Hint: There doesn't have to be a school involved.

2. She's a wonderful, brilliant woman, who I would have to marry if... well, if I wasn't already married. And if she wasn't (I assume).

But anyway, I took her work, and boiled it down to the following few paragraphs.
Let's look at "homosexuality as sin." The primary sources for this belief are the two mistranslated verses from Leviticus, 18:22 and 20:13.

If you go back to the source material, in Ancient Hebrew, you'll find that the verb used for "mankind" is shakab, and the one used for "womankind" is mishkab. And shakab, in its sexual sense, is used when you are talking about forcible sex (such as, say, rape), or any sex against the will of the victim.

For example, shakab is also the word used in Genesis 34:2, when Shechem defiles Hamor the Hivite; and in 2 Samuel 13:14 - "...but, being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her." And in Isaiah 13:16 - "Their children also shall be dashed to pieces before their eyes; their houses shall be spoiled, and their wives ravished." It's even used in Exodus 22:19, "Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death."

There are references to consensual sex in the Bible, but none of them, if you look at the source material (before the translation errors crept in) use the word shakab. So the correct translation of the passages from Leviticus is an exhortation against homosexual rape: "Thou shalt not force sexual congress on a man, as (or instead of) with a woman."

Personally, I prefer the Word of God over the Mistranslation of God. Simply because you happen to disapprove of homosexuality, you shouldn't push your own prejudices as the teachings of the Lord.

"But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men." (Matthew 15:9).
Armed with this brief statement, I googled "homosexuality sin" with the filter "blogs", and then sorted by date (to be sure that I was beating on the freshest horse).

I had the following results:

Some blogs moderate their posts, and simply wouldn't allow my words to appear at all. (In fact, I contacted this one to ask if they'd received it, and got a terse "Please see our 'Comments' tab" in response, where they open with "We do not promote false doctrine." So, yeah. Real open-minded guys, there...)

Some blogs, interestingly, moderate after the fact: my response would appear, and then would disappear shortly thereafter. (You know, that seems even more hypocritical than not letting it appear in the first place. At least, it seems that way to me.)

On some blogs, they allowed me to post it, but nobody had an answer.

But thankfully, there were some signs of life in the theological world. After all that, I managed to engage two groups, one evangelical site and one (I came to find out) Mormon site, where they ended with "OK, you stated your case well. I reject it."

(I even had a brief discussion with one kid, who seemed surprised that anybody read his stuff.)

So overall, I think that all I've managed to do is to prove something that I already knew: logic doesn't do a damned thing in arguing with Christians about their beliefs.

And so it goes.


Anonymous said...

Christians have the right to call homosexuals 'sinners', their religion has defined sinners, at the same time, being an atheist myself, Mother Nature does not classify anyone as sinners, therefore I am not a sinner.

Eric said...

Thank you so much.
Fantastic argument.

Anonymous said...

I am going to read the full article you rely on, but it is interesting to note that the rape of the vanquished men by a conquering army was indeed standard practice in the world culture at that time.

I'd always relied on the "eating shrimp is an abomination also" argument, but this argument, in the context of the culture of the time, makes a lot of sense (well, except that sometimes Yahweh told the Isrealites to slaughter all, man, woman, child and animal).

Pepper said...

Anon at 9:38, from your comment, I would say you are not an atheist, you are a Pagan. Mother is our "deity" of choice.
Join us sometime.

Anonymous said...

The appropriate response to being called a sinner is, "Yeah, and what are you?" For Christians, all people are sinners and Jesus said, in so many words, that one sinner does not get to call another person a sinner. You might as well use the term "human being" as an curse as use the word "sinner" as they are synonymous.

Anonymous said...

It is obvious that you are not a Christian in any way shape and form. As for your military service doesn't mean squat when compared to your immature knwolwdge of the Bible and the Word of God. Truth is unchangeable and Jesus Christ is Truth. Homosexuals are by their very act condmened less they repent of their Evil Life style.
I'm glad you responed on my blog. I Knew their were people of no moral convictions out there and you obviosly are one of them. I'll pray for you and your family that you come back to the Truth.

David Drysdale Sr.

Kathy said...

I just found your blog after viewing your comments on Barbie's blog. I've dealt with her on a knitting forum for over a year now and she's the most fundamentalist fundie I've ever met. She doesn't think the Pope is Catholic enough.

She was just as fevered against Catholics as she is against gays back when I first started dealing with her. Now she's the only Catholic who is actually following all the rules.

According to her my son doesn't know Christ because he's gay. He is one of the gentlest, most loving persons I know. And his demeanor is more like Christ than her fear-mongering and hate-filled tirades against gays.

I've put your blog in my favorites now. I just wish I could stop reading Barbie's, but it's like watching a train wreck.

Catherine said...

What Kathy said. I followed you here from the train wreck. Will be back - so reading Barbie's whackadoodle More Catholic than the Pope crap does serve a divine purpose! ;-)

Atiba de Souza said...

Here is something fundamental that has been completely missed. Homosexuality is a sin just like speeding, lying, adultery, or anything else AND Jesus says we cannot rank sin. there is no sin greater than another. Because you are homosexual does not make me better than you or vice versa. We have no place to judge or condemn. We are to Love, that is the truth of Christ.

Cynic again thanks for commenting on our blog now watch our video and see if you have the same judgement of us. http://vimeo.com/channel29715. We at Vision Runners strive to live the way Christ intended...that does not include judging.

Pastor Atiba de Souza. VisionRunners.org

Suicidal Jane said...

Speeding is a sin? Awww hell.

Anonymous said...

Of course speeding is a sin, Jane. Anything fun is a sin, right?

Jemima said...

I hear a lot of talk here about 'good' people and 'wicked' people and judging and 'homosexuals' and all sorts of other compartmentalizing of humans.
Truth is God never said he was going to save "good" people; he did however say he needed us to be obedient. What exactly are we being saved from, do you think?
For those who think there is no God because of the activity of foolish people who call themselves Christians...isn't that a bit like saying a father doesn't exist because the kids who call him Dad are up to no good and ruining the family's reputation?
Just wondering....?

Nameless Cynic said...

I'm curious, Jemima, where do you hear talk, in this neighborhood, about "good" and "wicked" people? Where do you find any talk about "judging"? I think that you've got a basic cut'n'paste argument that you've decided to put here, and you have no idea what has actually been written in this specific neck of the woods.

(Hell, I should know about that, if anybody does, right?)

To be honest, I think we need to be save from people like you, who lurk in the dark, wait a few months, and then leap out to pass judgment on the sinners.

I mean, you know, feel free to come into the light and debate with the rest of us.

Or just sit there in your little room, and declare people who disagree with you as sinners. Your choice.