The #Bible’s New Testament – Book of Romans II: The Bible’s Clearest, Most Bitter Denunciation of Homosexuals (cont.)

I was in Spain this past August, and while I planned our trip, I spent little time thinking about the food.  I’d waited tables at a Latin restaurant for 3 ½ years and felt like I knew the cuisine well enough to find plenty of dishes that worked with my particular likes and dislikes. One of those people who eats anything, I am not. Our first night in Barcelona, I realized that I was going to have far more trouble than I realized.

For dinner we found a very cool local tapas bar in the old part of town.  I okayed the restaurant in part because of the menu outside, on which, among the variety of ways to serve ham (of which I am not a particular fan) and a bunch of seafood dishes was what translated to chicken tortelloni with mushrooms. Perfect, I thought, I’ll just order it without the mushrooms (which I avoid at all costs). We headed in.

When we ordered, I asked for the dish without mushrooms (I speak fine enough restaurant Spanish to navigate this type of conversation) but, alas, that wasn’t possible: the dish had already been prepped.  Fine, I said. I felt confident I could pick out what I didn’t care for. But when the dish arrived, the mushrooms had been threaded throughout the tortelloni (which look more like an enchilada than what I had in mind) and would be impossible to weed out. I could either suck it up and eat the dish as prepared, send it back, or make such a mess of my plate that the dish would be destroyed.

The Bible is sort of like a dish that’s prepared a certain way, and the kitchen does not take requests. Still, people find ways to carve it up in ways that suit them.  The Book of Romans offers a few opportunities to tweak the included points, and the effect is messy.

Even if the idea that Paul is denouncing homosexuality in his letter to the Romans is taken in context, there are other words in there that should be noted, and missing words considered.

First, there’s no mention of homosexual LOVE. Part of the issue is that during that era, the homosexual identity did not exist (or at least not as we know it). Therefore, gays and lesbians did not court, fall in love, live as couples, etc. Or if they did, they kept it REAL quiet.  So perhaps this didn’t occur to Paul (or people that shared his point of view back then).

I’ll suggest that two gays or lesbians do and can love one another.

Given this then, if they don’t have sex and live together in love, they aren’t “violating” the “law” here, right? Furthermore, the troubling coda suggests that all people who engage in homosexual sex are also evil, etc. (1:29). Do people who cite this part of the Bible as evidence that being gay is wrong really believe this? If you use Romans to justify an anti-gay stance, you also have to include what Paul says goes along with being gay.  You CAN’T cite one part and leave off the other. They are included together for a reason: each detail is needed in order to develop the point the particular section is developing.

I do, however, understand why someone would want to exclude certain words or phrases, especially in our modern, technologically-advanced society. I’m referring specifically to the use of the world “natural,” as in people who engage in gay sex have abandoned “natural” relations with women (and vice versa). Without getting too graphic, the term “natural” suggests to me any form of sex that can lead to pregnancy. Therefore, introducing something unnatural, like, I don’t know, Viagra would violate this natural clause. Last I checked, condoms were also unnatural—I don’t recall seeing a condom tree or a condom farm, for that matter, right? And what about other birth control forms? These are unnatural as well, right?

If we are going to employ an enlightened definition to words in the Bible—expanding “natural” to include things that promote a healthy society through population control, spreading diseases, etc.—surely we then can take the same license to explore an enlightened view of homosexuality: it’s not all about sex.

If people who maintain their anti-gay stance by citing Romans as part of their evidence, they should know that they sound like this guy, Major Andrew Craibe, A Salvation Army Media Relations director based in Australia, who believes that gays should die: http://bit.ly/1aixttx. He uses Romans to justify his opinion on gays.

Is this really what Jesus would have believed? Not based on anything I’ve read. Jesus does not even mention homosexuality—though he does mention sexual immorality (which could refer to a lot of things). It seems that some people have gone searching for a section to justify their hate and misrepresented what they found.

In Barcelona that night, I made a mess of my plate, and in the process managed to not get enough to eat. I should have just ordered another dish, one that I knew I would like, not one that I knew I would have to dissect in order for it to work for me.

Next up: 1 Corinthians. I don’t anticipate the discussion of a lot of columns. Should I?

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About virgowriter

Brad Windhauser has a Master's in English from Rutgers University (Camden campus) and an MFA in creative writing from Queens University of Charlotte. He is an Associate Professor (Teaching/Instruction) in the English Department at Temple University. His short stories have appeared in The Baltimore Review, The Santa Fe Writer's Project Journal, Ray's Road Review, Philadelphia Review of Books, Northern Liberty Review, and Jonathan. His first novel, Regret (a gay-themed thriller set in Philadelphia) was published in 2007. You can read more about (and buy) it here: http://goo.gl/yvT24K His second novel, The Intersection, is being published by Black Rose Writing September 2016. He is one of five regular contributors to 5Writer.com. On his solo blog, he is chronicling his experience as a gay writer reading the Bible for the first time: www.BibleProjectBlog.com Follow his work at: www.BradWindhauser.com VirgoWriter@gmail.com
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3 Responses to The #Bible’s New Testament – Book of Romans II: The Bible’s Clearest, Most Bitter Denunciation of Homosexuals (cont.)

  1. Tim says:

    I don’t think anybody escapes condemnation when you read through to the end of the chapter do they? In my version it says ‘people full of strife’, ‘haughty’, ‘gossips’. The heterosexual who condemns homosexuals is like the proud person who condemns gossips.

    • virgowriter says:

      The end of the first chapter I have is basically the same. I read that God here–or the author of Romans–is focusing on the specific type of people engaged in this behavior–unless it was so pervasive that “everyone” was doing it. I can see how this might apply to everyone, in that everyone might be “susceptible.” I do appreciate the seeming hypocrisy in a heterosexual condemning a homosexual–or any human judging another, actually. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Andrea says:

    i took the time to read pretty far back on your blog (and i will continue to read, i would have liked a button to skip back to the beginning or to different books of the bible, i did not see anything like that), and i also took the time to write professor, i say that ’cause i want you to read what i write, but my style of writing will make you sick i am sure, and i cant shake from starting like this: the bible is the conduit of a relationship of love with God. The closer the relationship the more you know Him and hear His voice speak directly to you. i wont claim to know your heart but it feels like you read the bible kept at a distance. so literally boring. How did you miss miss so much. relationship, love, comfort, the message we take from slaves and the gift it is to know how to submit to the master’s will in this life (oh Lord i am thankful for my life and all its comforts but i know i am spoiled and i envy the slave who’s life prepares them to humble themselves to Your will. tear), and most of all who it is written to. BELIEVERS. it is not suppose to be used as some weapon against sinful humanity (of which we all are participating in currently), it should not be used to teach anyone that one sin is greater than another (to God there is holy and unholy). the chance to be seen as holy has been given to all, believing is all it takes. if i am a sinner, mind you i am married and go to church and tithe and volunteer and donate and, i sin everyday! I will sin again tomorrow and the next. What makes my sinful life any different than anyone else’s? awareness. I am aware that cutting someone off on the 91 is a sin, that the bird did not make it any better and i choose to do it anyway. pride. I disrespect my husband when we fight, i over eat when i know i am full and i lie for my own comfort at the cost of others and my own growth, oh gosh and i super gossip. And what Jesus did for me cleanses me of all that, but it would be nothing if it did not do it for all the sins i commit tomorrow too and the next day. Its a one and done kinda deal, that why God tells you He knows your heart, you cant fake this. You believe it once and confess it with your mouth, and BOOM white as show is how God sees you. its the power of the blood. Jesus was perfect so i dont have to be, my job is recognizing that me and my choices are not perfect. Humbleness!!! Oh God Why!! oh yeah ’cause he knew me (and humanity) and that we would need to be humbled for personal growth. Love God, Love Others… never says to love your self, not because loving your self is wrong, ’cause God knew He would never need to tell us to be loving ourselves. Humility can change a person and their life and so there it is written for believers that whole discussion on faith and works. keeping in mind i feel the bible is written to get me to look at my own logs and my own eyes instead of focus on the speck others, i read Romans 1:29 (which you referenced above) differently. 29 says starts off “their”. 1st i need to know who is their, you lead me to believe it said gays or lezis right there… so i read the verse before it for context and wow i am blown away. i feel you looked and search so hard for this anti gay talk you missed the whole point, if you dont mind me pointing out your specks. the “their” of 29 is the “they” of 28, if says “Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God”, he… LIST of CONSEQUENCES. Key phrase here is “acknowledge God”, lets see if the chapter supports these versus. i would say we are looking for other talk about acknowledging God, not only in identity (creator) but only deity(one and only). my chapter break is at 18, so i will start there and see if we need to go back more later. 18 God hates sinful me, well… no! God hates sin period but He is talking about hating sinful people who suppress the truth!!! we all hate liars, even tho we all lie. 19 He hates them ’cause they know the truth, it is obvious to them, 20 its clear no excuse. 21 they KNEW God!!!! They KNEW God but would not worship him or thank him. Sounds like the case of the Prides. I dont think this is talking about the Gay Pride Parade. its the log in all our own eyes. 22 claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 instead of worshiping God, they worshiped idols made to look like the things God had created. this idea kinda repeats in 24 and 25 but 26 says these people are so wicked and shameful (altho they dont sound ashamed of themselves) even… key word EVEN, they did all kinds of acts that they even did… even the women had sex with other women, 27 and men had sex with other men. As a gay man i know you dont live in a box, which i kinda just laughed at sorry.. but you know the sexual habits of some of your straight girl friends when they get drunk and they want to demand attention of other straight guys at the club… not being bi, not interested in building a life with a woman, just making out. our society is so excited by girl of girl action that too many females are ok feeding into that. guys are being brought up on porn, pictures and stories that they want 3 ways with their girl friends feeling left out of the coming of age sexuality adventures, girls are open-minded and love their friends and the closeness of pulling them in to sex with their boyfriends, and that when i was growing up now a days it is more then 3-somes and guys dont want to be closed minded and blah blah blah…. it comes down to honesty. that BS i just wrote about sounds a lot more like the verses above. utter foolishness. i have participated and been part of activities like that, i have talked my friends into participating. during those times, i could feel God calling me and i have said allowed ” not now God”… Examine your life honesty, you cant speak for all people having homosexual sex, but do you fit any of the other verses? are you lying, did you know God and walk away, are you prideful, worshiping idols, are you acting in a shameful manner? i expect you to say no here, so maybe this message is not directed at you like others were hoping it was. I dont know a ton of gay people but of the handfuls i know, i only knew three that behaved like this, one was promiscuous and lying to each guy he strung along while he had sex with them all, another dated my “not like this” friend, he was old enough to be his dad and turns out he was married among other things. the third was abusive in pushing to penetrate her girlfriend with toys and other things during sex when she did not want to be penetrated. these acts are shameful, i am thinking we would agree, this is not of the sum of all gay men or women. There are shameful people in all walks of life, minsters, preachers, childcare workers, ordinary people, to every type there is. If we were honest as a society, we would all know exactly what this passage is saying to each of us and focus on growing closer to God so that we are less accusable by God of these behaviors. I am not sinless i just strive to sin less. most days i put it all on me and i fail worse than i ever did. But these faux christians that are just sinnful humans, like the rest of us, we dont want to look at our part or how close the toxic activiy is. Since we breed it in our own homes, American teens are lost and unloved, even the most spoiled of them, as are the 20 and 30 40 50 60 somethings. The bible says bring them up in the ways of the Lord and they wont waiver from it. as a nation and society we are walking away from the promises of the bible. are the previous generations looking at how they raised their children and where they failed them? (oh i am not saying this is a deciding factor for gay lifestyle, i am talking about shameful behaviors like from the verses) we want something to point our finger at, far removed and something we are almost sure no one will ever catch us doing… Most people are not able to be honest with themselves let alone honest enough to quit judging others ’cause OMG He will judge us to the same measure we judged others, Oh Lord forgive me my transgressions far greater please than as i forgive others!!! i dont have to call for grace, i know Him, He comforts me empowers me and frees me, even tho i will remain a slave to sin til the end of this life. Dont just seek freedom, get to know its Master. the Master says LOVE one another. i love for the true sacfice of what it is to love. “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela. May i keep this in mind as i interact with other humans from all walks of life no matter their past or business now. “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Ian Maclaren. May you remember this the next time you meet a horrid “christian” shoving the bible down your throat, they need love and kindness from you more than to be proven wrong. Biblically it is a person in their own churches place to redirect them also with love and if that does not work a meeting of 3 or more, something of this nature. I love exposing to Christians where the GLBT community is showing us up on love and acceptance. Please feel respected for your sexual preference, but note how i started. I dont know your heart, i hope you dont feel judged in your personal life choices, but your blog reads as if you read the bible with yourself protected and removed from a distance, fair enough, it is only the weapon used against your softest most exposed life details. but it was cold and empty to read your experience of the bible, so far any way, going backwards. like hearing high-school freshmen read Shakespeare and write a blog without the years it takes to build the relationship with the text that transforms how you read it and understand all of it much clear than other whom never showed an interest. with my respect, please excuse my use of commas and destructive grammar, spelling and sentence structure. thanks for being a trooper, i appreciate it!

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