See, I joined Facebook some time back, because I have children, and that's one of the ways they communicate. (Sorry, Nicole, I'm still not going to follow you on Twitter.)
Now, I mostly use this as a kind of gaming platform. To be honest, I've all but given up on everything but Treasure Madness, which has a bunch of puzzles I enjoy. Once every few days, I might check back on my accounts in some of the other games, but a lot of them are starting to seem like adventures in accounting, so I'm mostly letting them taper off.
But Facebook is, at its black little heart, a social networking site - a hub where people who never leave their apartments can pretend to be interacting with other people. And it has any number of Fan Pages, Causes, Events and other little sites centered around everything from "Gun Control" to "I bet I can find 1,000,000 who HATE Miley Cyrus by 10/10/10."
(Yes, it's there, and as of this writing, it has 583,320 fans. There's also "Don't Worry, If We All Die In 2012, Miley Cyrus Goes With Us," which has 416,709 fans. Which seems like a lot of negative energy to spend on some random pop tart, but go figure.)
I get a lot of page invitations and the like, and I mostly ignore them. But the other night, I got an invitation to join 1 Million Strong For Same-Sex Marriage Throughout The Entire United States. And it was late, I was tired, I'd had a couple of glasses of wine, and, you know, solidarity, brother. So I went there.
I quickly noticed that, although there were a lot of supportive messages under "Reviews," there were also things like some genetic defective named Vince Aguilar writing "DIE GAYS DIE" (punctuation - fail; capitalization - fail; general attitude - fail. Interestingly, he also gave the site a 5-star review. Mixed messages, Vince? Repression is an ugly thing...)
And, as always, somebody mentioning that the bible condemns homosexuality. So, just because it seemed like the right thing to do, I added the following comment: "Sorry, folks, but the Bible does NOT condemn homosexuality. People who mistranslate the Bible condemn homosexuality." I added this link. And I went on my merry way, unaware of the horrors to come.
About an hour or so later, as I'm thinking that maybe it was time for bed, I get that little red pop-up that tells me I've got a message. So, being a fool, I opened it up. It's from some guy I never heard of, saying:
Read Romans 1, I Cor 6:9, Jude, Leviticus and any number of other passages- note: even when Jesus referred to "adultry" Matt. 19, the Gk. translation for that word is "pornea" which means sexual/any sexual offense outside marriage and, given his reference to the Law/Moses, it was also clear, per his mention of Man and Wife, that marriage was contextualized as sacred between only a man and woman. There are plenty of passages, as pointed out, that mitigate against and even condemn homosexuality and none that ever validate homosexual union or activity either civil or religious or in any context within. Yet, there are plenty that offer consequenes for such behavior. Unfortunately, there are many people who would like to excercise a revisionist view of scripture and force their values into a set of texts that hold no place or context for them. You may not like it. I may not like it. But, that's beside the point. You don't have to live by biblical principles or accept what it says as applying to you - you are welcome to run a stop sign, too! But a stop sign in any language still translates STOP - what you decide to do with does not change what it says. Having said that, I concur with Billy Graham who said "It is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, God's job to judge, and my job to love."Big-assed blocky paragraph, just dripping with moral superiority. So I responded.
Let's look at "homosexuality as sin." The primary sources for this belief are the two mistranslated verses from Leviticus, 18:22 ("Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.") and 20:13 (same as before, plus "we should kill them").(That might look vaguely familiar to my two long-time readers - hey, it's not like I haven't had this argument before.) But he wrote me back.
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).
(A warning: you thought that last one was a big-assed, blocky paragraph? This one is ridiculous. And he's trying his hardest to bludgeon me to death with the weight of his verbiage. I recommend scanning until you reach the next paragraph break - you'll be fine, and you won't waste that ten-to-fifteen minutes of your life - depending on your reading speed, of course - trying to puzzle out what he's saying. Here's the short form - "I'm a very smart man. I don't agree with you. The way I was taught the Bible is the only way that it can be. Anything else is heresy. Oh, and I used to be gay, until I fell in love with Jesus.")
Dear Bill,Which sounded like a challenge to me. So, I waded in; the following is my response. Let's see how he does.
Let’s look at the reality of authentic bibliology and historicity. I am not certain of where you received your theological training in either Hebrew or hermeneutics, but your statements are in error due to your faulty translations and applications of the texts, since the gender forms you cite are in reference to gender case with regard to nouns/pronouns, not verbs, and only in address and delivery, not as qualification for non-violent sexual impropriety, otherwise we could posit the notion that unforced sex with our siblings (of any gender) is acceptable to God (and, in fact, could treat Abram and Sarai as an argument in favor of such a notion). But the gender case of nouns is evident in even many modern languages as well the ancient Hebrew and Aramaic, Latin Vulgate, Koine Gk., and the most ancient Codexs of the scriptures, and this is done, as it is here, in order to denote gender specific references, not to militate against violence but against sin or transgression. The "source material," about which you seem (unintentionally, I hope) to double speak, can be found in both the Septuagint and even the more generous modern renderings of the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible and to concur with the fidelity of the most ancient, available renderings in the reproduced codexs of the Hebrew. The more recent liberal, deconstructionist and revisionist renderings are attempts at imposing synthetic contrivances in translation upon centuries old sets of texts, indeed, upon the entirety of faithful biblical textual renderings and, also, an attempt to bypass the full consensus of valid, blood-bought confidence of many centuries of both Eastern and Western scholarship which have produced legitimate translations of the Bible. The only errors in to have crept into more recent biblical interpretation, are those manufactured by modernistic retranslations of scripture, such as that which you present here, and which are very laughable attempts at an agenda-based corruption of the fidelity of texts which have stood the test of time, translation and interpretation, without yielding to cultural mandates or special interests. Even the most rudimentary study of bibliogy would give you the translations, actual timelines, availability of extant text materials (and just as important, the lack of original texts), and show you how the Bible was rendered in a multiplicity of languages dating from 3500 years ago in oral tradition, right up to the present day through written history and scholarly consensus. I invite you to take the time to study further. Again, because I came out of a lifestyle which included same sex relationships into my early adult years, I've a great deal of empathy for what it means to need to experience intimacy and to want to give and receive, love. But, I cannot change the facts and context of
history and biblical literature in a selfish endeavor to achieve what I desire at the cost of real truth. "Shakab" and "Mishkab" made that mistake in the Garden by attempting to force their will on God, too, and so we have suffered the marring of even our ability to be appropriately intimate with God or one another, apart from the reorientation of our will and nature by Jesus Christ. I, too, made the mistake of embracing and exercising faulty notions and emotions about what loving relationships were, and made some of the same mistakes in my later relationships with women as well, which is why I believe, again, that it is the Holy Spirit's job to convict, the Father's job to judge, and my job to love. I pray you will find the love and intimacy that God truly desires for you as you strive to work out your salvation in Him.
Jeff Avants, MA, English (Summa Cum Laude), Northern Arizona University; MA Theology, Fuller Theologcial Seminary; MA, Ministry, Simpson University; BA, Liberal Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara.
I have to say at the outset that, although I find your arguments syllabically-rich (if a bit short on paragraph breaks), I don't find them particularly compelling. But, you know, I appreciate you including your CV; in my studies, I've had some experience in any number of languages. For example, there's a Latin phrase I've run across once or twice: "argumentum ad verecundiam." Are you familiar with it?
Editors note: that means "arguing from respect" - it's a logical fallacy, that just because he's got a few degrees behind his name, he must be correct. It's also called ipse dixit (Latin for "He Himself said it")
Now, we'll get back to what you refer to as "gender forms" in just a moment, since that is the weakest part of your argument. So pardon me if I skip around a bit (no double entendre intended, incidentally).
"not as qualification for non-violent sexual impropriety, otherwise we could posit the notion that unforced sex with our siblings (of any gender) is acceptable to God "
Well, that depends on whether you're taking one verse out of context, or applying it to the Bible as a whole. Since you brought it up, though, let's talk about incest for a moment.
The "Holiness Code" of Leviticus (chapter 18) elaborates in detail the relationships which it regards as incestuous, and two chapters later specifies punishments for specific incestuous unions. Oddly, the second list is much shorter than the first; some scholars regard these two lists as having originally been independent documents, which were bound together at a later point.
Deuteronomy gives an even simpler list of forbidden relationships - just your parent's daughter (including your sister), your father's wife (which, obviously, includes Mom) and your mother-in-law. These lists only mention relationships with female relatives, so unless you wish to extend this to lesbianism, this implies that the list is addressed to men.
One of the most glaring omissions of these lists is sex between a man and his own daughter. The Talmud argues that this is because the prohibition was obvious, especially given the proscription against a relationship with a granddaughter. However, wouldn't that qualify as "deconstructionist and revisionist renderings... attempts at imposing synthetic contrivances in translation upon centuries old sets of texts," which you seem opposed to?
I suppose it would only be polite at this point to ignore Abraham marrying his half-sister Sara (Genesis 20); or, buried in amongst the generations of the Chosen People in Genesis 11, we find that Nachor married Melcha, his niece; Lot laying with his daughters (or technically, his daughters laying with him) to preserve the family line; or Moses being the son of Amram and his aunt Jochabed; they were all very holy men, blessed by God. But not only would it be rude, but completely off the subject. So let's move on.
I note in your picture that you have two children. I assume that if one of them mouths off to you, you'll have them put to death? (Leviticus 20:9 - "For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.") It's only fair to apply that equally to both your son and daughter, of course. Gender equality and all. (Or am I being deconstructionist and revisionist again?)
That also looks like a cotton-polyesther blend shirt you're wearing there. You need to avoid mixing your threads; better check out Leviticus 19:19. It's good that you have a beard, but it's trimmed, and your hair is just a little too short to be considered uncut (you'll find that in Leviticus 19:27).
I mean, after all, you're the one who doesn't want to impose "synthetic contrivances in translation." We've got to follow all the rules, not just the ones we like, right?
But let's get back to that pesky Hebrew issue of yours.
Only, just to make things interesting, let’s take two different words from another language, and replace them. What that means is, Leviticus 18:22 now reads, "Thou shalt not eat apples, as thou do oranges: it is abomination."
See, the ancient Hebrew word shakab doesn’t translate directly. And neither does mishkab, if you want to be totally honest about it. They are (let’s be real) two totally different words.
Now, there are three distinct versions of Hebrew in the Bible, usually called "Archaic Biblical Hebrew" (10th to 6th century - Exodus 15 through Judges 5), Biblical Hebrew (most of the Old Testament), and "Late Biblical Hebrew" (Ezra, Nehemiah - mostly the same as Biblical Hebrew, with a few adapted words from other cultures). There’s other forms - Dead Sea Scroll Hebrew (from about 300 BC through about 100 AD) and Mishnaic Hebrew (from about 100 AD through 300 or 400 AD) come to mind, but we’ll ignore them.
Each of these versions of ancient Hebrew only had a few thousand words. In comparison, the second edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (pub. 1989) contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. This doesn’t count 10,000 sub-entries (derivative words), or medical and scientific terms, Latin words used in law and religion, French words used in cooking, German words used in academic writing, Japanese words used by martial artists and anime fans, or any slang or computer terms (like, say, iPod or email).
With that difference in the depth of the language, why would the Biblical writers use two different words for one thing? Why would you not eat apples, as you do oranges? Unless we were talking about two different acts.
If the Hebrew word shakab is used in the Old Testament to refer to the act of sex 53 times, and in 52 of those times, we’re talking a forcible act, what does that say? (And, to be honest, since the woman in ancient times was a piece of property, the single other instance could be a forcible sex act as well.)
If you'd like, I'll be happy to begin listing the specific uses of "shakab," all of which show it to be "rape" as opposed to "sex" (at least one of these examples involves animals, which breaks down your claim that "the gender forms you cite are in reference to gender case with regard to nouns/pronouns, not verbs, and only in address and delivery").
Perhaps you should worship the Word of God, not the Mistranslation of God.
Update - 2/21: Well, I gave him a week, and no answer. Oh, well.