Homosexuality, sex and Christianity
Posted: 18 August 2007 10:07 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I found this on the net and although it was quite long and in several parts I will try to put in a few parts at a time over time on the argument of one religious sect over the other on the argument of homosexuality verses the bible;

  Religious liberals promote homosexual ordinations, same-sex marriage, civil union ceremonies in the church, equal protection under hate-crime legislation, protection against discrimination in employment, etc. as fundamental human rights issues.
Religious conservatives feel that the Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is always a serious sin. Allowing sexually active gays and lesbians to be ordained, or to have their committed relationships recognized by the church would involve a drastic and unacceptable lowering of church standards. The church would be condoning sin. They also oppose including sexual orientation in hate-crime and anti-discrimination legislation.

We have been unable to change the beliefs or actions of any of these hundreds of people on even one point related to homosexuality. Their views appear to be fixed. It is doubtful that much progress towards compromise on homosexual rights can be made by means of dialogue. We don’t expect that the attached essays will change the beliefs of many visitors to this web site. However, the essays may help people understand opinions that are not their own.
What was the sin of Sodom according to Genesis 19?
The text of Genesis 19 implies that God approved of Lot’s behavior, even though he made an offer of his virgin daughters to be raped. This approval would have been extended to Lot’s family as well. But God apparently had a fierce anger directed at the other inhabitants of the town. He destroyed Sodom with fire and brimstone (sulfur) dumped from above. According to the story, he killed all of the men and women of Sodom, as well as all the innocent children, infants, newborns, etc. who lived in the city.
It is unclear from this brief passage in Genesis why God demolished the city. The following theories have been advanced.
The people of Sodom:
1.  Engaged in consensual homosexual acts—a same-sex orgy in this case. This is the belief of most conservative Christians. This option seems very unlikely because Genesis 19:5 said that all of the men (perhaps all of the people) of Sodom formed the mob at Lot’s house and demanded to “know” the angels. The percentage of male adults in a population is generally around 5%, not 100%. Also, Lot had lived in the city for some years and would have know if all of the men were homosexuals; he would hardly have offered to sacrifice his daughters to the mob if the men were entirely homosexual. Finally, as noted above, if the men of Sodom were all homosexuals, there would be few if any children and widows in the city as mentioned elsewhere in the Bible.
2.  Were uncharitable and abusive to strangers, the poor, sick, and disadvantaged. In that society, a person had a very strong obligation to protect any guests in their home. Many liberal Christians believe that this is the meaning behind the story of the destruction of Sodom. This belief has considerable support in the many other references to Sodom in the Bible and Jewish literature.
3.  Wanted to humiliate their visitors by engaging in “an act of sexual degradation and male rape…These are acts of violence that are committed by parties seeking to show their hatred for those they are degrading. It is not an act of love or of caring” 1 Perhaps the sin of Sodom was the threat of mass rape.
4.  Wanted to engage in bestiality—having sex with members of another species. The mob may have wanted to rape the angels; angels are not human beings; they are of a different species. This would be consistent with the quotation in Jude about the men of Sodom going after “other flesh” or “strange flesh.”
5.  Wanted to adsorb the power of the angels: In ancient times, sacred sex was very common. People would engage in sexual intercourse with temple prostitutes who represented a god or goddess. By doing so, the people believed that they would receive a blessing from the deity. If the people of Sodom realized that angels sent by God were present in their city, the men of Sodom may have concluded that raping the angels might give them supernatural powers. 2
Various Christian groups interpret Bible passages in totally different ways, and reach mutually exclusive conclusions:
Conservative Christians:  Many believe that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, like passages elsewhere in the Bible, refers to homosexuality as a forbidden, detestable practice deserving of the most serious punishment—not only death to those attempting the homosexual act but also a mini-genocide of the entire cities of Sodom and Gomorrah including adults, youths, children, and infants. God created the institution of heterosexual marriage as the only valid relationship for humans within which sexual activity can be performed without sin.
Liberal Christians: Many believe that texts in Genesis and the rest of the Bible make it clear that Sodom was punished because of the violent, abusive, inhospitable, greedy, and unsympathetic behavior of its citizens towards visitors, widows, the poor and other disadvantaged persons. Liberals often interpret Genesis 19 as condemning homosexual rape simply because it is rape. It would then be consistent with Deuteronomy 22:25-29 which condemns heterosexual rape. The passage does not impact on consensual homosexual activities between consenting adults, and is totally unrelated to loving, committed, same-sex relationships, civil unions and marriages. Most religious liberals are are faced with the inescapable and rather surprising conclusion that the condemned activities in Sodom probably had nothing to do with sodomy—i.e. anal sex. As one Christian editor wrote: “To suggest that Sodom and Gomorrah is about homosexual sex is an analysis of about as much worth as suggesting that the story of Jonah and the whale is a treatise on fishing.”  1
There is ironic aspect to this passage that is rarely discussed: To judge by other biblical references to Sodom, God seems to condemn the citizens for insensitive treatment and harassment of others. But, this is the very passage that many conservative and some mainline Christian faith groups use to verbally attack gays and lesbians.
The real story of Sodom may well have involved a mob who mistook the angels for ordinary humans. Driven by fear, suspicion, and/or hatred there intent was to humiliate, by rape, what they assumed were stranger people visiting their city. The Sodom situation has many parallels to gay-bashing today, with homophobes trying to assault gay and lesbian strangers. 4
In the past, Christian leaders have mainly used two Bible passages to condemn masturbation:
One passage, in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), describes the death of Onan. It was a widespread belief that Onan was killed by God because he masturbated. This event was the source of the term “Onanism”—once used as a synonym for masturbation. But further analysis indicates that he was murdered for the “crime” of using a primitive method of birth control to avoid conceiving a child. The Christian churches have now generally accepted the latter interpretation of this passage. The term Onanism is now rarely used.
The second passage is from the Christian Scriptures. It refers to a unknown form of behavior. The meaning of the original Greek phrase has been lost. Bible interpreters have assigned various meanings to the term in the past two millennia. Originally it was believed to indicate a lack of a strong moral sense. Later it was believed to refer to masturbation. Among many conservative Protestants today, it refers to homosexuality. To our knowledge, no Christian group today interprets the passage as referring to masturbation.

(More later)

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