By Melanie Nathan, 03/05/2012
I am an equality activist; I am staunch about the separation of biblical law and civil law. My religious and spiritual life is not one that I expect others to adhere to, believe in or even respond to and so I do not use my pages to advocate religion. However as an activist who believes every single person in the world has THE right to love whom they choose, I believe every single person ought to be entitled to equality under laws that deal with coupling, whether it is the extending of obligations or rights to that couple.
When I write about equality for same-gender couples, as like many of my colleague bloggers, I receive loads of commentary quoting the bible, verbatim. I moderate comments to my site and am known to allow even the most hateful and hurtful ones, which I truly in my heart do not approve of. I have over zealous commentators who if given the chance would usurp my entire space with their biblical interpretation. But I have a limit! So I allow only a few.
My site is about my activism; it is about justice and fairness and although I believe the Bible does indeed offer up more on the subject of justice,fairness and love, than it does on hate, I still have no interest in equating civil rights with it!
However as we all know the biggest and only weapon that the conservative right has available to it, to argue against our rights, is the Bible and so they deploy it like a warhead at every opportunity they have.
Contrary to my belief to keep Bible separate in this argument for justice and equality, I have often wondered what it would be like to seize control of the Bible as an argument “for” being gay – using it in “attack mode,” for want of a better term, instead of defensively as we have always been apt to do.
How about taking control of the Bible for perhaps our own LGBTQI “evangelical purposes” – perhaps our movement ought to consider fighting fire with fire by smudging the boundaries ourselves, of biblical versus civil. Perhaps we ought to use the Bible (our) evangelically or intellectually to show passages and paradoxes that discount the wicked notion that gays and lesbians are unintended or abominations.
I know when I come to my spirituality that I am absolutely intended and absolutely perfect in my sexuality and have no need to confirm it with or without written words. Anyone who chooses to dislike or judge my purpose on this earth is the one who will have to contend with their own inner torment – I cannot imagine anything more tormenting unto oneself, than spending one’s time being concerned with someone else’s sexuality and how they live it out.
However playing out this fun notion of “on the attack” was piqued when I read this web page promoting a new book and so called “discovery” and I thought it would be fun to post here – okay, I know exactly what I am inviting by doing this – but heck it may be a worthy exercise even if just to frustrate those whose comments won’t make it past my moderation.
There is a Book, published Nov 2011,touting this discovery by internationally acclaimed cryptographer Michael Wood which supposedly ought to remove the final barrier to full societal acceptance of gays and lesbians…..
And here is a synopsis of an “attack mode” ( latter term is my own notion) argument….
Discovery: Apostle Paul accepted Christian homosexualsFor the last 2,000 years, Christians have been taught to believe that Apostle Paul condemned homosexuality. But a new discovery documents that he deliberately acknowledged that it does not prevent anyone from entering heaven. This discovery by internationally acclaimed cryptographer Michael Wood removes the final barrier to full societal acceptance of gays and lesbians.
“Michael Wood’s discovery is remarkable because it solves a colossal paradox regarding Paul’s Greek that has baffled scholars for 2,000 years,” says Dr. William Berg, former professor of Greek and Roman Classics at Stanford University, UCLA, and other academic institutions.
Paul’s only unequivocal reference to homosexuality is found within Romans 1:18-3:20, a Biblical passage that has mystified scholars for two millennia:
The interpretation of Romans 1:18-3:20 has been notoriously difficult for almost every commentator… Earlier interpreters such as Origen, Jerome, Augustine, and Erasmus wrestled with this issue and it continues to plague commentators today. (Studies in Paul by Richard Longenecker, p. 98)
Romans 1:18-3:20 contains a legal paradox. The passage says both of the following:
The doers of the law will be vindicated
By the works of the law no one will be vindicated
The passage also mysteriously separates idolatrous, homosexual orgies from transgressions worthy of spiritual death. “In finding the solution to Paul’s legal paradox, I inadvertently discovered why he separated the idolatrous, same-sex orgies from the things he considered worthy of spiritual death,” said Wood.
Dr. Berg has spent many months examining the linguistic and historical basis of what he describes as Wood’s “remarkable” discovery. “Michael Wood reveals to the public a well-kept secret, namely that the apostle Paul, like the rest of his contemporaries, divided the commands of the Jewish law into two groups demarcated by Leviticus 19:18—‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the commandments based on loving your neighbor were ‘Justices of the Torah.’ Those not based on Leviticus 19:18 were ‘Jobs of the Torah.’” Dr. Berg explained.
Wood’s solution is both elegant and verifiable:
Only the doers of the Justices of the Torah will be vindicated
By the Jobs of the Torah no one will be vindicated
Not only is there no contradiction, but the two teachings have always been simple restatements of each other; the “Great Paradox” is no paradox at all!
This legal solution fully explains Paul’s treatment of homosexuality. Paul’s passage excludes idolatrous, homosexual orgies from things which he considered worthy of spiritual death, things such as “bad-mouthing others,” “deceiving,” and “inflicting pain.” Those engaged in idolatrous, homosexual orgies weren’t violating the Justices (they weren’t violating the precept, “Love your neighbor as yourself”). Therefore, Paul was obliged to separate this from his list of things which did violate the Justices.
The finding is significant because it documents that Paul purposefully separated the same-sex acts; it was a conscious, deliberate decision consistent with the rest of the passage. In fact, it was demanded by the rest of the passage. The resolution of the paradox empirically proves that Paul’s view on homosexuality was very different from what Christians had thought for 2,000 years.
Although Romans 1 contains the only unequivocal reference to homosexuality, anti-homosexual statements have been introduced into other passages in newer versions of the English Bible. As for these modern changes to the Biblical text: “Michael Wood has gone the extra mile in being faithful to Paul’s Greek,” said Dr. Berg. “He shows, time and again, that the words traditionally mistranslated as ‘homosexual,’ ‘effeminate,’ ‘impure,’ and so forth, are really targeting selfish, unloving, unjust activity and have nothing to do with sexual orientation. He shows that once again Paul was condemning those who violate the Justices of the Torah, and nothing more.”
Full details of Michael Wood’s solution to the 2,000-year-old paradox and the implications for full acceptance of gays and lesbians are discussed in his new book, Paul on Homosexuality.
Also Note that an interesting series of You Tube Videos appears on the page to add to the explanation at http://www.paulonhomosexuality.com/
Caveat: – Please note I have not read the book, do jot have an opinion about it; I neither recommend, nor endorse, nor promote or agree or disagree with what is written in it!
Please note that if you plan to comment I welcome it. AND Note, I am not expressing any opinion on the verses or the interpretation in this piece. These interpretations are not my own. I am NOT a Biblical scholar and have not formed a religious opinion on the versus or interpretation. My post is designed to illustrate the “attack mode” point only and also to welcome conversation on the Biblical aspects too. Please do not expect anything scholarly back from me!