I started collecting comic books in sixth grade, and although most titles released an issue monthly, titles came out different weeks of the month. The summer before eighth grade, Fantasy Castle, where I shopped in Tarzana, moved locations to a spot in Woodland Hills. I could now ride my bike there and wait on Friday afternoon for the boxes to be unloaded. I became such a regular that I was asked to help out one day. By the end of the day, I’d been offered a job, working for store credit, on a regular basis, mainly helping to fill subscriptions and getting the back issues organized.
Eventually, I would tackle the back room, which was crammed with boxes of various back issues. Since the move, no one knew where anything was, but they knew there were some choice issues buried in those boxes. As the weeks went by, I had amassed a ton of credit and was dying to find some hard-to-find X-men issues among the treasure. How could those boxes not contain a veritable gold mine?
This mission, though I was technically on the clock, felt more like fun, as I systematically moved through the boxes, integrating various issues into the store stock. With each boxe I opened, I was convinced that I would hit pay dirt. But no. Mostly, I found stacks of titles I had never seen or heard of. Perhaps I hadn’t been around enough, but I was sure I was familiar with all the cool, collectible titles to know a good book when I saw it. Which was why I quickly identified most of the stock as junk—why in the world had all of this been saved?
Turns out—as one of my managers pointed out to me: titles like Howard the Duck were not only once collectible and choice issues, but people used to like to read them. Sure, they may not be hot now, but you never knew when tastes would change and a cold title might become hot again. Besides, you had to have enough variety in your stock to appeal to all types of customers.
You mean people collected things that weren’t popular? Surely he was kidding. Besides, most of these issues were so caked with dust—even in the boxes—if figured this was a sure sign that no one still cared.
Eventually, though, I hit pay dirt, and when I did I quickly forgot about all the dirt and junk I had to wade through to find it. And when I found my issues, would they be everything I hoped they would?
I began this project looking to discover the sections of the Bible that purportedly offer a clear stance on homosexuality. Leviticus comes close, though everything around that chapter and verse negates the “rule,” to be honest. You might be able to argue that the rules exist in the brief discussion of Sodom and Gomorrah, but, as I’ve discussed elsewhere, that seems hollow as well. Jesus didn’t mention homosexuality ever (although he does mention sexual immorality). The Book of Acts also includes a blip, although mentioning “sexual immorality” is not explicit enough for me. I’m almost done with the Bible. This info had to be somewhere, right? Surely all the people that have cited the parts mentioned here have a better section up their sleeve?
The Book of Romans finally contains the section I was looking for. This book contains the most explicit denunciation of homosexuality thus far—and it’s direct and bitter, and, perhaps to underscore its importance to Paul, it surfaces in the first chapter.
In setting up his case that people have strayed from God’s path, Paul states that people have caved to sexual “impurity” (1:24). In so doing, “they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator” (1:25). What having sex has to do with worshipping other Gods is unclear. Perhaps these “impure” acts were integral to the rituals associated with other Gods. If that’s so, then perhaps the issue is with the worshipping, not the act itself.
But before people indulge any doubt in Paul’s message here, he clarifies: Because God was pissed at this thumbing of noses to him, he allowed people to embrace this “shameful” lust. These people abandoned “natural” relations with the opposite sex and then women had sex with other women (1:26), men had sex with other men. Both “received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion” (1:27). This then lead people down a sinful slippery slope, where they became evil, wicked, greedy full of “envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice” (1:29).
So there’s a lot here, and the context is significant. The idea that homosexual “lust” is bad is clear. However, couched in associations with the worship of other gods is important. It suggests that people were engaging in this behavior in order to worship another God, not because they were looking to have a good time. So if you remove the other-god worship, does this change how the sex act should be viewed? The issue seems related to the motivation behind the act, not the act itself.
For people who have combed the Bible to find justification for their anti-gay stance, it would appear that they found it. But have they? If they agree that gay sex is “wrong,” they must also attach the other elements Paul attached to it, such as gay people being wicked, greedy, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. You can’t cherry pick here and have one without the other. Is this what they really think of gay people today?
Next post, I’ll dissect this even further.
Great points Brad!
I enjoy your writing.