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Promoting Intimacy and Other-Centered Sexuality
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Note: Liberated Christians is a primarily about heterosexual relationships. While we are supportive of all sexual orientations, the leaders do not have the resources to assist them in their special issues. Thus, our Fellowship groups are not appropriate for gays/lesbians. However, individually Dave (an extreme heterosexual - Kinsey Scale= 0) has done extensive biblical research and has been active supporting biblical homosexuality for many years. However, there is no "official" stand as an organization on homosexuality other than general support.
Sodom and Gomorrah Clearly Had Nothing To Do With Homosexuality
Some teach that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexual. This has no theological support. A careful look at scripture corrects such ignorance.
Probably no story in the Bible has been used more to persecute homosexuals than the story of Sodom. By the Middle Ages, Thomas Aquinas had come to see all disasters of any kind as God's wrath at homosexual sin. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, collapsing buildings, runaway horses, women falling into ditches - all these and more were understood to be expressions of God's displeasure at "the wickedness of Sodom."
Yet in Old Testament times we never find references to the destruction of Sodom being equated with homosexual acts. For these references we must look to the last centuries before Christ.
In the two centuries before Christ, the Hebrews became better acquainted with the Hellenistic world as they traveled, traded, and settled in Asia Minor, Greece and Rome. Heterosexual and homosexual acts were traditional expressions of fertility worship in the Hellenistic world. Having been raised under the Holiness Laws, the Hebrews found these practices offensive. Among the Hebrew's reaction to these worship practices we find the first texts equating homosexual acts with Sodom. There are also references to the iniquity of sexual acts between Hebrews and Gentiles ("your union shall be like unto Sodom and Gomorrah" and between angels and humans. The references to homosexual acts usually were concerned with the practice of sex with youths, which was popular in Greece as an expression of appreciating beauty.
By 50 AD we find the first time the sin of Sodom is associated with homosexual acts in general. In the Quaest. et Salut. in Genesis IV.31-37, Philo interpreted the Genesis word yãdhà as "servile, lawless and unseemly pederasty." Around 96 AD, Josephus first used the term sodomy to mean homosexual acts. From Antiquities: "They hated strangers, and abused themselves with Sodomitical practices."
Since Old Testament times did not equate the Sodom story with homosexual acts, what was the crime of Sodom - a crime worth the destruction of five thriving, wealthy cities on the fertile plains?
The crime was pride. And it was inhospitality.
We have to remember the Hebrews were a nomad people in a dry, hostile environment. Weather and suspicious neighbors made hospitality a matter of survival. Being welcomed in a stranger's home or tent could mean the difference between life and death.
Throughout the Old Testament, Sodom is held up as a lesson in wickedness that deserves utter destruction for reasons other than homosexual acts. Examples: Ezekiel 16:49 - 50, "Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good." Isaiah tells of lack of justice. Jeremiah emphasizes moral and ethical laxity. The Deuterocanonical books identify the sin as pride and inhospitality; in Wisdom 19:13-14, we read "...whereas the men of Sodom received not the strangers when they came among them." In Ecclesiasticus 16:8 the sin is recognized as pride: "He did not spare the people among whom Lot was living, whom he detested for their pride." In the New Testament, too, there is reference to Sodom and inhospitality: In Luke 10:10-13, Christ talks about cities that are inhospitable to his disciples. He warns: "...it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city." It's not until the very late books of 2 Peter (2:4) and Jude (6), that sex is considered a sin of Sodom. These books were written several generations after the deaths of the apostles and were talking about the transgression of the natural order of life when angelic and human beings have heterosexual relations - a major concern to the popular Stoic philosophy of the time.
Not only are there no references to homosexual acts when Scripture refers to Sodom, there are no references to Sodom when the Scriptures refer to homosexuality. There are several biblical passages that some have misunderstood as condemning homosexual acts. Not one of these gives Sodom as an example of the result of homosexual behavior. Considering how often Sodom was used as an example of the result of wicked behavior, it's apparent that biblical times did not see homosexual acts as the important lesson of the destruction of Sodom.
How did the lesson of Sodom become so identified with homosexual acts that the very word for one of those acts became Sodomy? The answer is in the Hebrew word: yãdhà.
Yãdhà has two meanings: "to know" and "engage in coitus." Of 943 times yãdhà is used in the Old Testament, only ten times is it used to mean sexual intercourse, and all of these are heterosexual coitus. The Old Testament uses the word shãkhabh to mean homosexual acts and bestiality.
Lot was a resident alien in Sodom. When Lot invited strangers into his home, the townspeople approached Lot and demanded "Bring them out unto us, that we may know them (yãdhà)." Judging from the biblical references we've just discussed, it seems the townspeople were asking to get to know the credentials and intentions of strangers in their city.
The absolute sacredness of a guest was a principle well known to Lot. Lot also understood the way crowds give in to hostile acts against outsiders (see Judges 19:1- 21:25 for a similar tale of hostility to strangers.) So he protected his guests and refused to hand them over to the crowd. When the crowd insisted, he offered his two daughters as the most expedient diversion for a hostile situation.
For 2,000 years, until the last century before Christ, Israel understood the lesson of Sodom to be one of pride and hospitality.
Perhaps of even more interest in the same narrative, Lot offers his two virgin daughters to an unruly mob to be sexually assaulted, and later, Lot's two daughters get their father drunk and become pregnant by him, and bear his children. None of these actions are described as particularly sinful.
Perhaps one of the most misleading term in English is the use of the word sodomy to describe anal penetration and/or male homosexuality. The mere fact of this linguistic development sealed in the minds of many English speaking people that Sodom was destroyed because of homosexuality. The Church's false teaching on this issue is an abomination and travesty, not loving homosexuals that are unfairly condemned by this ignorance.
God appeared to Abraham telling him that he and Sara would have a child and they were going to investigate the wickedness in Sodom & Gomorrah. Thinking God would destroy the cities, Abraham made a deal with God, that He would not destroy the cities if 10 righteous people could be found in Sodom where Abraham's nephew Lot lived.
God sends two angels to Sodom, where Abraham's nephew, Lot, persuades the angels to stay at his home. Genesis 19 records that "all the people from every quarter" surround Lot's house demanding "to know them". It was common in those times to use violent and brutal rape as a way to humiliate and establish power over another, not unlike in some prison situations today. It is also done by heterosexual males which is very unnatural for them. This was part of the terrible acts of pederasty, the opposite of today's loving homosexual natural relationships.
Lot attempts to protect the visitors sent by God by offering his two virgin daughters to be raped. The people of Sodom refuse them and the angels render the crowd blind. Lot and his family are then rescued by the angels as the cities are destroyed.
To Western cultures hospitality is far different than what it meant in biblical Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries Today only certain Arab groups, like tuareg survivors or rural areas of Magreb, still use it but it's deeply present in most of these cultures 20 centuries before especially in Hebrew Biblical nations.
Hospitality, in these cultures, meant that if a person asked you for it, you were completely compelled to protect your visitor - even if that meant losing your property, family or life. Although today it may seem impossible, this DID work for centuries. It isn't strange if we think of it as a survival strategy: you never know who will need hospitality, specifically in hard lands or times. What Lot did was act as his culture required him to.
ALL of Sodom's people participated in the assault on Lot's house; in no culture has more than a small minority (7-10%) of the population been naturally homosexual. Therefore it can be assumed most of the violators were heterosexual. Also since there were "young and old" would indicate that someone must have been having heterosexual sex to produce the young!
Lot's offer to give his daughters to be raped suggests he knew the crowd had heterosexual interests - in fact offering young women for sexual hospitality was common. While it is unclear, even if homosexual rape was what the people were after it was do defile the strangers unnaturally between mostly heterosexual males against another heterosexual male as in pederasty. This rape attempt has nothing to do with loving, consenting homosexual love and was clearly not the reason for God's destruction of Sodom.
God spared Lot and his daughters from the destruction of Sodom. Genesis 19:33-36 goes on to say how the daughters got Lot drunk and committed incest with him. Would God destroy two cities for homosexuality and save these people so they would go right out and commit incest?
Homosexuality can not be called one of the sins of Sodom, Gomorrah or Gilbeah since it is not in any of the lists of their sins given in the O.T. Ezekiel 16:48-50 lists the specific sins of Sodom as pride, plenty, laziness, uncaring for needy, haughty and worshipping idols - which was an abomination - not homosexuality.
Some try and see in the word "abomination", a false reference to homosexual activity. This word translated abomination is to'ebah in Hebrew and is frequently found in the Old Testament. If one reads it in context every where it appears it is always connected with idolatry - never homosexuality. Just a few examples are in Deut 7:25- 26 where it is the idol used in false worship, Proverbs 21:27 having to do with broader false worship etc. The people of Sodom were involved in idolatry.
The attempts to stretch "abomination" or "unclean" acts in Leviticus as to mean homosexuality is just as false. That would mean that we would be just as justified to claim that the sin of Sodom was that of shellfish eating, beard trimming or that the sin of Sodom was menstruation on the part of the womenfolk for the same reason.
Jude 7 also provides another view of the sin of Sodom: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication and going after strange flesh..." In another discussion of fornication it is clear it is idolatry and has nothing to do with singles sex. But what is this strange flesh reference?
A view of strange flesh comes from Gen 6. Here we read of a time when the "sons of God" cohabited with the "daughters of humans", resulting in a strange progeny called in the Hebrew "nephilim", a rare word indicating something weird or strange.
To examine what is meant by "sons of God" look to Job 1:6. Here we see that Satan, a fallen angel, was before God as one of the "sons of God" we would understand the "sons of God" to be other angels. We again get the understanding that "sons of God are angels from Job 38:7. Strange flesh means a linking between angelic flesh and human flesh. Remembering that the two visitors to Lot in Sodom were angels, we see this was also going after strange flesh. This has nothing to do with homosexuality, but of the mixing of two distinct orders of creation.
Why Not Condemn Heterosexuals Based on Parallel Events in Gilbeah? Judges 19 tells of a very similar event in Gilbeah, using the same words as in the Sodom story, except that the house guest was a man, not an angel, and the people accepted the concubine women visitor of the man. The concubine was raped until she died and the city was destroyed. As in the Sodom story, the sex of the victim is not important, it is the violent abuse of the stranger not sex that is the sin. The concubine of Gibeah and the angel of Sodom were both acceptable victims because they were strangers. This was a typical pederastrial practice, to rape strangers regardless of sex.
Gen 34 tells of a rape of Jacob's daughter Dinah by Shechem the Hivite. As a result of this heterosexual rape, Shechem's home town was destroyed. Yet in spite of this destruction, we hear no one condemning heterosexuality on the basis of this passage, but rather a condemnation of rape. So also is the case with Sodom but even worse the attempted rape of strange flesh (angels).
Historic Reasons For False Teaching Of Sodom
Although the original understanding of Sodom (having nothing to do with homosexuality), survived in some circles until well into the Middle Ages, the increasing emphasis of Hellenistic Jewish and Christian moralists on sexual purity gave rise in late Jewish apocrypha and early Christian writings to associations of Sodom with sexual excesses of various sorts.
But in the intellectual environment vehemently opposed to the casual hedonism of the Hellenistic world, many issues which had not been specifically sexual became so; this was the case with sexual questions such as onanism and homosexuality. This was done by just slightly altering the greek words!
The Judaeo-Platonist schools such is in Alexandria, greatly influenced some early Christians, since they combined the authority of classical learning with a tradition of Old Testament scholarship (responsible for the Septuagint translation which most Christians used).
For Christians, The Alexandrian rule had great influence in what was considered "natural". In the third century Clement of Alexandria asserted that "to have sex for any purpose other than to produce children is to violate nature."
This concept was also taught by Philo to Platonist Jews. Any use of human sexuality, potential or actual, which did not produce legitimate offspring violated "nature": all moral issues were subordinate to the primary duty of males to procreate. Celibacy was as unnatural as was homosexuality. Failure to divorce a barren wife was also "unnatural" as was masturbation.
Unfortunately Church tradition of today has bought into these twisting of scripture and ignores true biblical research to find the truths of scripture. But many Christians and ministers just think they know it all and many are totally unaware of the background of some of their false teachings. This is the true abomination...all the hurt caused by the lies and false teaching instead of loving people just as God created them, regardless of their natural sexual orientation. It is very clear there is no choice in sexual orientation and the terrible hurt and failure of the "change-em" ministries is full of evidence how impossible and harmful trying to change ones God given sexual orientation can be. But ignorance prevails and the lies continues which all Christians should be ashamed of and speak out against.
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