yesterday, i talked a whole lot on aim with rachel p, a yalie friend of mine that used to be gay. she's now, in her words, "turned toward jesus and away from the sin of homosexuality". she likes to cite paul's letters in romans 1:26-27 for her reasoning why homosexuality is a sin, and i definitely reject such.
she recites from a translation. she's not reciting from the original hebrew. any translation for western society is exactly that: a translation for/from western society that (just) might be skewed to reflect the beliefs of the western translators. synonyms are synonyms, but synonyms still carry different connotations. for example, in learning a new language at all, one'll notice that some words just don't translate from one language to the other. i notice this all too often when i want to translate from spanish into english.
yet, let's not use that as a simple way out. i'll go ahead and assume the english translation as being correct, yet i don't think i'll want to assume her interpretation as being flawless.
i give her a common interpretation from more liberal christians of that same passage. it, in fact, is more thought out than her simple argument stating that "a man shall not lie with another man", blah, blah, blah:
she's selecting verses yet leaving out the total message, grrr. the verses are unrelated to homosexuality! the complete passage actually describes how ex-christians first engaged in orgiastic, presumably heterosexual, sexual activities. later, paul writes that god "gave them over" to something new: this being homosexual behavior. this, though, implies that throughout their lifetimes, these ex-christians were of a heterosexual orientation and engaged only in heterosexual sex. god had then influenced them so that they'd, then, engage in homosexual sex. this was, for them, a very unnatural activity, of course, and they were thus admonished because they engaged in sexual activity which was unnatural, again, for them.
for one of a heterosexual orientation, homosexual behavior, sure, is unnatural, perverted, shameful, and indecent. the passage, though, in romans is not a condemnation of homosexual behavior. rather, it disapproves of sexual behavior that is against one's basic nature (homosexual behavior by heterosexuals and even heterosexual behavior by homosexuals).
when the scripture is understood correctly, it seems to actually imply that it'd be unnatural for heterosexuals to live as homosexuals and for homosexuals to live as heterosexuals. simply said: be yourself.
romans 1:26-27 speaks only of heterosexual people who act contrary to their nature.
"god created each of us with a sexual orientation. to attempt to change it is, in effect, telling god that he created us incorrectly. the creation (being you and me) does not have the right to re-create itself."
if you don't like that interpretation, arguing that the verses are indeed, completely related to homosexual activity, any and all types, well, i'll give you another argument, assuming that one assumes such:
the verses, sure, relate to some homosexual activity but not to loving, committed relationships! the word "perversion" in verse 27 and "such things" in verse 3o are related only to particular gay and lesbian behavior, specifically: casual, homosexual activities outside of a committed, monogamous, two-person relationship or homosexual molestation between a man and a child (in paul's day, the latter was often a slave.) or group, homosexual practices or, more specifically, group, homosexual practices in a religious setting. this last one was actually commonly practiced among pagans at the time (in the temples dedicated to the goddess aphrodite).
these were probably the only types of same-sex activity that paul was familiar with, so paul may well have not been considering gays and lesbians in committed relationships when he wrote the passage. he never referred to monogamous couples in his writings and probably never even encountered any during his lifetime. i mean, he might simply have been condemning homosexual orgies in said pagan, sexual rituals. hmmmm.
i tell, then, my friend rachel p that her interpretation of that passage is actually such: an interpretation. neither of us can fully know what is being said, as she's given me one, and i gave her two. the bible is filled with many mysterious passages that can be skewed either way, so i ask her: how do you know you're right? rachel, you told me before that you've felt gay all your life, so what if you're going against your nature? will you, then, be a christian in hell?
she gets uber annoyed with me, ha, at the comment, oops. ;x she tells me that she feels so sorry for me that i misinterpret god's words. she says she wants to cry for me.
alright, so i can see she's not getting my point and still not opening her mind. although i do disagree with her interpretation, i'll assume it fine for my last, final argument.
she tells me that i can't bring up any of the old testament teachings, as those are irrelevant. i ask her why. she tells me that i shouldn't bring up the whole "you shouldn't eat shrimp, nor should you wear a coat of many fibers". ha, i tell her that's fine. i'll stick with the new testament. i'll even stick with paul, just for her. ;p here:
why accept this passage from paul's letters in romans? i mean... paul also accepted slavery in philemon 1:15 to 16, yet we reject such now, don't we? slavery is obviously immoral, unethical, and wrong. moreover, paul supported the oppression of women in 1 corinthians 14:34-35. we reject that now, too, don't we? wow, times do change. i mean, this passage in 1 romans should be rejected as also being immoral and outside the will of god, just like other biblical passages are worthless and should be ignored.
she signed off.