Skip to main content

Perhaps, the passage most fundamentalist Christians (who actually know something about Biblical interpretation) quote most often to condemn gay folks is the one referenced in the title. However, I  (along with many other progressive Christians) still believe that they are interpreting this passage incorrectly. Some passages require a bit deeper understanding of the relevant history, the linguistic issues, and even a bit of science (and, where various cultures were at on the science of the related issue). Such is likely the case for interpreting Romans 1.

Here is the King James Version (I am always tempted to change King to Queen when I write that -- sorry) of Romans 1:26-27:

26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:

27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one for another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

Let's discuss the relevant issues below the orange cheeto.

Romans is a letter that Paul (Saul of Tarsus) wrote to the Christian church in Rome. The language used is Koine Greek. It was written during the rein of Nero, one of the most infamous emperors in ancient Roman history (although a number of them compete for that title).

Let's just give a very brief summary of the first three chapters of Romans because it helps us in understanding this passage. Chapter one is about the gentiles (goyim) and how they had failed G-d even though they did not have the law (Mosaic law). Much of it involved various forms of idolatry. The second chapter is about the Jews (and Paul was raised a Jew) and how they had failed G-d even though they did have the law. And, then in chapter three, we get to the point he is trying to make. In Roman 3:23, it reads:

23) For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.
Paul goes on to explain that we are justified by faith and not by works or the "deeds of the law."

Now, let's return to Nero and Rome during this time. Rome had about a million people during this period, and about half of them were conquered peoples from different nations and cities. Many of those folks were sold into prostitution. Any Roman citizen could hire the services of a prostitute (male or female), and they did so (probably quite often). Prostitution was legal and big business (and, it was taxed as such). There were active and passive male prostitutes, and the passive male prostitutes were usually younger males and were castrated. The men (citizens) in Rome were allowed to use the services of the passive male prostitutes, and no one apparently batted an eye. They were also allowed to hire the services of the active male prostitutes, however that was pretty much frowned upon. Many did so anyway. With regard to the women, this verse does not say that they had sex with each other. It simply states that they participated in unnatural sex acts.

Nero had some pretty wild, crazy, distasteful, and destructive sexual impulses and habits himself. He had his first wife killed (beheaded), and gave her head to his second wife as a gift. His second wife came home late one day (from the games), and he kicked her in the stomach. She was pregnant at the time, and it killed her and the child. Well, apparently he was fond of his second wife, because he ran into a very young man (probably an adolescent boy) who reminded him of his second wife. He had the young man (or boy) castrated and he then married him. And, also he would put on animal skin clothing and go out and find people and tie them up to trees. He'd torture them and kill then apparently for fun and sexual pleasure (that's taking S & M a bit far, I think).

Rome was polytheistic (many gods) at the time. And, when they conquered another nation, they would generally just incorporate more gods and goddesses into their religious institutions and practices. Some of them were fertility gods and goddesses, so that was all part of this prostitution business going on at the time.

This is some of what Paul saw (and/or heard about since he wrote Romans from Corinth) going on in Rome, and he was trying to tell the new Christians there to avoid these things.

Now, let's go back to the passage in question. Verse 26 starts out with the phrase "For this cause." The question arises as to what cause Paul is referring to. To understand that we have to look to the preceding verses (this is the problem with proof texting scripture). Those verses are about how various past (gentile) cultures committed idolatry (of various kinds)  and worshipped pagan gods while they should have known better. So, then Paul begins to discuss another type of idolatry ... temple prostitution and sexual obsessions and abuses of all kinds. And, he admits that he finds these things vile and unnatural. We don't really know what he meant by "natural use" here. Natural law (as described by the RCC) had not come into existence yet, so he may have meant what most often happens. Paul's audience in Rome was (overwhelmingly) heterosexual. They exchanged their natural use or desires to do unnatural acts (for them). It is natural for homosexuals to have same sex sex. But, it is not natural for heterosexuals to have same sex sex. It bears mentioning that many of these folks were also already married, and still participating in these activities.

So, was Paul talking to or about loving and committed same sex couples here? Most likely not. Was he talking about the sex that these couples have as an expression of their love for one another? Again, most likely not. That was not what he was looking at in Rome at the time or what his (life) experience had shown him.

Originally posted to librarisingnsf on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:05 PM PST.

Also republished by Street Prophets and Community Spotlight.

Poll

Paul (Saul of Tarsus) was

17%80 votes
38%171 votes
8%37 votes
10%45 votes
10%45 votes
12%55 votes
3%14 votes

| 447 votes | Vote | Results

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

    •  Interesting. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VirginiaJeff
      •  His "Jefferson Bible" Cuts Out All the Commentary (8+ / 0-)

        of the gospels and really I think everything other than Jesus quotes, finding the rest of it at odds with a decent philosopher.

        You might check out my sole, ancient, diary, about a 1969 early computer word pattern study of the 3 synoptic gospels, which are based on the same major underlying source and various combinations of other underlying sources and tell the same basic story with different perspectives and time sequences. For some reason all 3 writers 90+ % of the time faithfully associated each teaching with the same of some 4-5 different audiences, consistent across the 3 gospels and also among the numerous underlying sources.

        The study concludes the simplest explanation is that there was a real single historic teacher [the magical stuff is not addressed] with whom the story tellers actually disagree often, who uses distinctive language, ideas and terms differnt from the writers.

        So 1800's Jefferson and a 1960's Univac came to very similar conclusions.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:43:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That sounds very interesting. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          commonmass

          What is the title of that diary? I'll check it out as time permits.

          And, thanks for your comment.

        •  Obliviousness (5+ / 0-)

          I'm a Freemason. I dropped away once I saw that those members didn't know that they were performing 'Ritual Magic'. That they were performing elements from "The Song Of Solomon" without having the slightest clue of what they were doing.

          My Grandapa brought me into the Masons. I was in DeMolay when I was a kid. Its all "old mystic shit" without understanding the origins. Good, upstanding men are in those lodge rooms today going through the motions.. and not knowing it.

          "Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft" changed my world.  

          The difference for me is consent. Are you receiving a gift or taking a prize?

          by MightyMoose on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:26:21 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Um, we understand the origins very well (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cville townie, VirginiaJeff

            at my Lodge.

            Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

            by commonmass on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 11:16:36 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Origins (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              The Old Grouch, commonmass

              Ok. Then I mis-spoke. You are correct, the origins are taught.

              The ritual aspects are what is being missed (IMHO) They memorize the lines and perform the steps, but I doubt the nice old Christian men in my lodge had any clue they were performing 'Magic'.

              The difference for me is consent. Are you receiving a gift or taking a prize?

              by MightyMoose on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 01:12:13 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Only if "magic" consists of nothing more than a (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                commonmass, VirginiaJeff

                bunch of theatrical "motions".  In which case one could call pantomime, dance, and anything else requiring memorized motions, "magic".  Which, of course, the whole tom-fool fundamentalist claque of kooks and crazies might do, at the bray of anyone of their Jackasses-in-the-Pulpit.  Or for that matter, since memorized - and scripted in various and sundry "cheat-books" - words are also used, one can even call drama, play-acting, movies, and the whole area of that kind of thing, "magic", as well.  As again, the whole tom-fool claque of fundamentalists often do.

              •  Something tells me my Lodge is much younger (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                VirginiaJeff

                than yours. The older guys in the chairs (I'm one of the younger officers, which makes up the majority right now) are highly knowledgeable and our current WM is a past Deputy Grand Master. So perhaps it depends upon whom you surround yourself with.

                Personally, I enjoy Lodge and am enjoying my journey through the chairs.

                I would describe floor work as ritual, not "magic" however I can see where you might get that. Like Christianity has borrowed ritual from ancient pagan sects, so has Masonry. Borrowed, appropriated, and planted firmly in the ideas of the Enlightenment. You really can't look any further back in "modern" Masonry than the 18th century. Anything further back than that bears little resemblance to what we would call Freemasonry today.

                Pope Francis: the Thumb of Christ in the eyes of the Pharisees.

                by commonmass on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 01:58:10 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, old (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  commonmass, lotlizard, RonV

                  My DeMolay chapter was the Masonic Temple in Worcester, MA, and at one time I was Master Councilor. My Grandpa was a member of the Quinsigamond Lodge there. He was my sponsor.

                  Beautiful, beautiful building. Filled with secret corridors and lodge rooms. Some of the hidden ones were the prettiest. The main lodge room had a ceiling painted like the sky that shone stars when the lights were out.

                  My Degrees were taken in a very old single lodge room Temple in SE Massachusetts. I recall they had what they said was Ben Franklin's Apron and chair from when he was Master, but that would have been in PA, so I'm not sure.

                  ...

                  The following is my opinion. Its based on my life experiences and I can't prove a word of it.. but I feel that it is true.

                  To give a nod to 'Old Grouch', yes, its 'just reciting lines'... But it is reciting lines with intent and energy. When people get together and all push that energy in the same direction at the same time for the same reason, things can happen.

                  What group prayer, group meditation, Buddhist chanting, the whirling of Dervishes, and 'Mob Mentality' all do is allow your mind to reach places it can't reach easily any more. Those old parts of us, the animal parts. The parts that feel something is wrong when you have no way of knowing any such thing.

                  My children won't let me read Tarot cards for them any more. I freak them out because I see things I shouldn't be able to know. I was telling them about issues with friends that they were having with friends that I had no information on. It isn't that the cards are somehow magical, it is that the cards are a tool I have learned to use to tap into in to. To feel and see things beyond the obvious.

                  But then, I was very Christian. Heck, I was attending courses at a Seminary in my summers. But I also knew that 'God has 10,000 names'. I learned about other religions and practices as a way of seeing how other people got to That Place.. how they spoke with God.

                  It bugged me immensely that I was getting all these messages about how magic was bad, corruptive, Satanic even.. and here were these 'nice old men' invoking all kinds of things and not acknowledging or seeing what it was they were doing. My DeMolay brethren had no clue. When I went through my Degrees, I saw the same symbols, knew where they came from, and still had no separation between what those symbols and invocations meant and the cavalier attitude that most of them had about reciting the lines.

                  But I knew it was more than that, and I couldn't reconcile that. So I left.
                  ....

                  I'm currently Pagan. Wiccan, heavily seasoned with Buddhism. I would argue that I still qualify to be a Mason because I believe in God. My idea of her is just different than most. We, as humans, are more than our intellect and our muscle.

                  So no, I'm not blustering/faking/posing. The world is more than numbers and measurements. Science is wonderful (I have worked as a chemist and I work in IT. It is as cool or cooler than bow-ties), but just as limited as religion is.

                  The difference for me is consent. Are you receiving a gift or taking a prize?

                  by MightyMoose on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:56:59 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

        •  the Jefferson Bible takes out all the miracles (4+ / 0-)

          and other super natural events, not "the commentary"

          thanks for the link to your 2006 diary.  i missed it at the time and it is really fabulous

          Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
          Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

          by TrueBlueMajority on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:51:29 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I remember Paul saying that "Women should not (6+ / 0-)

      speak out in church."

      And that, of course, was interpreted to mean that women had no right to ecclesiastic power of any kind.  Odd, since Paul also talked about paying attention to women he was working with who were spreading the word of Christ.

      I always wonder if Paul simply meant that women shouldn't chat in church. Maybe he got mad because some women were gossiping while he was trying to preach. Who knows?

      Ironically, James, the brother of Jesus, got really furious at the idea that faith alone was enough for salvation. He says in his Book that when one is approached by the poor or the needy, one should not simply say tell them to believe in Christ and they will find salvation, one should help them, in the here and now. Straight from Jesus' declaration that what would determine who was going to heaven and who was going to hell would be who had helped people who were hungry, naked, sick, etc. and who had not.

      Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

      by Sirenus on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 03:15:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It has often occurred to me that Paul and Freud (17+ / 0-)

    wer similarly obsessed with sexuality of any sort, and they both told us a great deal about the inner wokings of the mind of one particular Jewish male--and thren made the wrong assumption that their hangups were generally applicable.  And neither of them were comfortable with women who dared to differentiate themsleves from a doormat--unless they were properly deferential to the particualr Jewish male.

    I am pagan. Temple prostitutes, Paul to the contrary, were priests and priestesses.  Non-Christian pagans regarded sex as sacred, signifying the union of the Divine Mother and Father.   It was HOLY. Even in modern Wicca, The Great Rite is perhaps the highest form of worship--but is almost always performed symbolically  by plunging the athame (black-handled blessed knife) into the chalice. Viewing uit as perversion or displeasing tells me a LOT about Paul's hangups, and it isn't pretty.  It undoubtedly contributed greatly to the anti-sexuality meme in Christianity--and the devaluing of both  gays and women.

    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

    by irishwitch on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:31:17 PM PST

    •  Yes, Paul's writings (7+ / 0-)

      seem to make him look like somewhat of a paradox. He seemed very puritanical is some of his writings, and yet he himself seems obsessed with sex in those and/or other letters/writings. I think he probably tried to stick to what he knew, but his biases and neurosis seem to creep into his writings at times.

      I meant to include another poll item for "misogynist and homophobe." That one might have gotten the biggest response.

      Thank you for your comment about pagan priests and priestesses. That sounds very interesting. I do hope you know that I was referring to Paul's words and interpreting them (as best I can). They do not necessarily reflect my personal views about this issue. I believe all religions deserve respect, and I enjoy learning about them all.

    •  Holy homosexual connotations, Batman! (4+ / 0-)
      26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
      27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one for another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
      Hot, sweaty workers appreciated the fit, sweaty, human form. A number of strong, potent guys found other strong, potent guys attractive...Scandal!!!

      "All acts of love and pleasure are her rituals."  http://en.wikipedia.org/...

      The "good book" is full of all kinds of contradictions..."as you would with a woman" and such.

      Sappho’s Reply - Rita Mae Brown
      My voice rings down through thousands of years
      To coil around your body and give you strength,
      You who have wept in direct sunlight,
      Who have hungered in invisible chains,
      Tremble to the cadence of my legacy:
      An army of lovers shall not fail.
      This is old shit. Old tendencies. Animals do 'gay' stuff without apology. Why are we so tight about it?

      The difference for me is consent. Are you receiving a gift or taking a prize?

      by MightyMoose on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:14:50 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good question. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MightyMoose, catwho, irishwitch

        Love the Sappho's Reply -- Rita Mae Brown quote. Thanks.

      •  370 Years Later (0+ / 0-)
        26) For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
         27) And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one for another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.
        370 years later, and after the unearthing of many Greek manuscripts that predated the texts used to compose the Authorised (King James) Version, we have this and other more consonant and accurate versions, in the English of today, the New Revised Standard Version (NRS):
        22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools;  23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.  24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves,  25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.  26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural,  27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

        You meet them halfway with love, peace, and persuasion ~ And expect them to rise for the occasion...

        by paz3 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:52:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  One word: RELIGION (0+ / 0-)

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 09:39:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Old shit (0+ / 0-)
        This is old shit. Old tendencies. Animals do 'gay' stuff without apology. Why are we so tight about it?
        As Stephanie Miller says:
        Homosexuality exists in every species; homophobia only in ours.

        Keep your Powder Dry and your Data Local!

        by thanatokephaloides on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 09:55:39 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I am a Pauline (8+ / 0-)

    because I am a gentile. Paul is my link. He found me, a slacker, at the shrine to the unknown god in Athens.  Thomas Jefferson's denatured Jesus would not have interested me. I wouldn't have kept kosher or permitted circumcision as  the price of admittance to  the movement Paul was promoting.   Paul said the unknown god was the only god & had no name, but  said God was approachable though someone named Jesus. The passage from Romans is the only one of Paul's writings considered authentic that gets used to prop up anti-gay attitudes.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 11:10:06 PM PST

  •  Before Saul became Paul he worked for Rome (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mikey, MPociask, librarisingnsf

    to get rid of Christianity.I think he did a pretty good job of replacing it with his own religion.

    Life is just a bowl of Cherries, that stain your hands and clothes and have pits that break your teeth.

    by OHdog on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 04:44:16 AM PST

    •  Not quite (8+ / 0-)

      He worked for the Sanhedrin to get rid of Christianity... Acts  9:1-2 makes that clear:

      Act 9:1  And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2  And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
      Rome turned a blind eye to it because infighting between factions made it less likely of their being inclined to work together and revolt against roman rule...

      Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

      by awesumtenor on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:24:47 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •   Yep. Paul was a Roman citizen because he'd (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VirginiaJeff

        been born in a Roman province.

        But he was a Jew and persecuted the Christians at the orders of the Sanhedrin, not Rome.

        Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

        by Sirenus on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 03:19:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think (7+ / 0-)

    that the different interpretations of the language should all have been entered in the bible.

    My belief is that Christians should only be following the 4 books of the bible that actually have Christ's words in them. Most of the other books in the NT were Paul's letters to various people.

    I try to stay with what Christ said we should do. Love God, and Love Your Neighbor.

    The OT to me is Judaism, and other than the first 4 books of the NT, the rest are other people's opinions on what Christianity is all about.

    My 2 cents.

    Interesting that the best paying jobs are Banker, Stock Broker and Politician.

    by KatGirl on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:06:59 AM PST

    •  Thanks for your comment. (0+ / 0-)

      Many folks feel/believe as you do.

    •  The "Canon of Scripture for use in Leiturgos" - (0+ / 0-)

      i.e. Public Worship - or Holy Bible as it is called today - was adopted by the 2nd Council of Nicaea, way back Centuries ago in time.  This Council examined some 5,000+ writings, from all over the then known world - Oecumene, as it is in Greek - ranging from the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures up through and including various and sundry "Epistles" attributed to the Apostles, including Paul.

      The Council accepted, and included for reading, the Greek Septuagint - i.e. 70 Books - translation of the Old Testament; which differs in both structure and format from the Masoretic Text generally found among today's Jews.  The New Testament was adopted as containing the 4 Gospels, and those Epistles which were believed to be authentically works from one or another of those who had known Jesus.

      The book, known as Revelation, or The Apocalypse, entered the Canon by ONE VOTE; and that only because it was attributed to John, called the "Beloved Disciple, as having been written by him during his last years on the Island of Patmos.

      In point of fact - as the later discovered Dead Sea Scrolls show - there were a number of Apocalyptic writings current around the time of the destruction of the Herodian Temple, and the scattering of the Jews into the diaspora, after the fall of Jerusalem.  So . . . The Apocalypse is never read at Divine Liturgy anywhere in Christianity; while the Roman Religion still uses very brief excerpts from it 2 times a year, as "alternate Epistle" for a Sunday.

      The Protestant Revolutionaries, intent as they were on wiping out any and all Tradition - Capital "T" intended - as well as any and all "Sacraments/Mysteriae", were left with nothing but writings from which to create their own "gods" in their own images and likenesses.  And, no one of them really agreed with any of the  others as to which writings were THE WRITINGS; as anyone who studies comparative religions knows quite well.  

      This latter inter-Nicene squabbling has led to the practice of the Proof Text being used to establish the one, only, and absolutely "christian" position of whatever anyone of the current thousands of Jackasses-in-the-Pulpit want to "prove".  Not to mention the thoroughly ridiculous nonsense of Mr. Luther declaring two of the Old Testament writings - the Books of the Maccabees - to be "Apocrypha", because they show that the Jews had - and still have today - regular Prayers for the Dead, something which Mr. Luther found abhorrent to his way of thinking.

      The great pity of it all is, simply that all those claiming to be "Bible Christians" aren't even in the same ball park with Christianity.

      •  "the Roman Religion" (0+ / 0-)

        trouble to call us Christians?

        "Catholics" a term too neutral?

        hate much these days?

      •  Regarding Revelation, I personally think (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        librarisingnsf, Calamity Jean

        that John got hold of a plate of bad mushrooms.

        I mean, go read the book. He was either under the influence or absolutely crazed.

        Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

        by Sirenus on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 03:22:03 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Patmos John's Bad Acid Trip (0+ / 0-)

          ..... was actually filled with coded symbols for things he dared not name in plaintext because the Romans would have him crucified if he did. A couple of examples:

          Beast with 7 heads and 10 horns: The collaboration between the Roman Government (city on 7 hills, i.e., 7 "heads") and the Jewish Temple/Sadducee authorities (10 Commandments --> 10 "horns").

          Number of the Beast 666 (or 616): Use of Koine' Greek and Aramaic numerologies yields "NRNKSR" for 666 and "GSGRKSR" for 616. Read: Roman Emperors Nero (Neron Caesar) and Caligula (Gaius Germanicus Caesar) respectively. I lean towards 666 here because (1) more manuscripts have that as the text; and (2) because Caligula didn't specifically persecute Christians whereas Nero definitely did. (Caligula persecuted pretty much everybody on an equal-opportunity basis....)

          I note with considerable delight that almost all available information states that John of Patmos (referred to sometimes as "St. John the Divine") was the only NT writer to die a free man in old age and in peace. Methinks that Emperors Vespasian and Titus (Flavius) rather liked what Patmos John wrote about the Julio-Claudian Emperors that the House of Flavius deposed in favor of themselves.

          Keep your Powder Dry and your Data Local!

          by thanatokephaloides on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 10:24:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  And it also didn't hurt..... (0+ / 0-)

            ...... that Constantine the Great was backdoor kin to the first Flavian Emperors Vespasian and Titus, either.

            In fact, at the end of the day, that was probably what got Revelation into the Canon: the one vote of

            Constantinus Flavius Valerius Aurelius, Caesar Augustus et Imperator Romanorum.
            Note well: no worthwhile historian of Constantine's times has ever expressed any doubt that Constantine possessed at least a vote in the Council of Nicaea -- and probably complete veto power as well. So of course he would vote for Patmos John's little Flavian propaganda screed -- even though it was totally, completely, psychotically weird as we all know today.

            Keep your Powder Dry and your Data Local!

            by thanatokephaloides on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 10:39:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I know that a lot of what he said was coded. (0+ / 0-)

            But the tone and the tenor of the whole mighty rant....pure insanity. And boy, did he hate women!

            Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

            by Sirenus on Sat Jan 18, 2014 at 06:47:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  The Letter of James (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VirginiaJeff, librarisingnsf

      Read the letter of James sometime; though an "opinion," as you say, it's pretty much a progressive focus on the poor and their plight, and what Christians ought to do for them that mirrors much current progressive and egalitarian thought.

      You meet them halfway with love, peace, and persuasion ~ And expect them to rise for the occasion...

      by paz3 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:56:33 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Christ's words (0+ / 0-)
      My belief is that Christians should only be following the 4 books of the bible that actually have Christ's words in them.
      They should also follow the other extant books with the words of Christ in them. (The Nag Hammadi Gospels and other such of that ilk.) The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches should be strongly urged to make their copies of these materials available to all ASAP.
      I try to stay with what Christ said we should do. Love God, and Love Your Neighbor.
      And "Forgive Those Who Trespass Against You". Don't forget that one!!    :-)

      Keep your Powder Dry and your Data Local!

      by thanatokephaloides on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 10:05:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  To read the verses in context, start at verse 18. (5+ / 0-)

    Paul says that, even though God has made himself evident to everyone, many have turned their backs on him and engaged in wickedness for which they had no excuse. Such as:
    " 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools;  23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles." - IOW following the many pagan religions.

    For that reason: "24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves,  25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen."

    The subsequent verses are just elaborations of the idea that God has punished the people who turned their backs on him by giving them up to their corrupt desires.

    Only by taking verses 26 and 27 out of their context can you turn this passage from Romans into a specific condemnation of homosexuality.

    And, although we don't know for sure, the "degrading of their bodies," IMHO, probably refers to cultic sexual practices.

  •  I Don't Know Who Paul Was (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    librarisingnsf, VirginiaJeff

    The primary message of the Bible is the triumph of love over the law. I think all human acts need to be judged in terms of the love (or lack of it) they bring into the world. I believe this is consistent with the Bible and the message of Jesus.

    When people condemn homosexuality based on the Bible, I think they are missing the point. This passage looks to me like a sprout on a twig of a bush. I suspect they are missing the forest for the sprout.

    •  I'd like to think so (3+ / 0-)

      But the New Testament Jesus who blessed the poor and the meek immediately tells us:

      "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets...For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  herefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven"

      •  Yes. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Liberal Thinking, VirginiaJeff

        It brings up some very interesting questions. Those are still debated in the faith.

      •  And That's the Law (3+ / 0-)

        I understand. But he also said that the law was made for man, not man for the law.

        I think you have to look at the totality of what's given, and not try to lawyer each point. I think the message is clear, and that message is love.

        Look at his actions. There's the famous case of the woman who was going to be stoned. He didn't say, "Okay, you disobeyed the letter of the law, so I'm going to throw the first stone!" Instead he was writing in the sand until the crowd melted away. (One wonders what he was writing.)

        So, if actions speak louder than words, what does that say?

      •  Jesus said a lot of things, some contradictory (0+ / 0-)

        without further interpretation. Those who skirt the law are in heaven, even if among the least. Those who did not help the poor aren't even invited in.

        Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

        by the fan man on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 07:53:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I appreciate it (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody, Batya the Toon, Fishtroller01, Emmy

    But I don't buy it.  

    He says that the Romans corrupted God's image.  And God, in return, gave them up to their own lusts.  Lust of a man for another man.  Paul isn't saying that Rome forced people to do what they didn't want to do.  He's saying that Rome let them do what they wanted to do.  Even if that meant being gay.  And that, along with a list of other sins, "are worthy of death."  

    I think you can happily drop Paul and remain Christian.  But I don't think you can listen to Paul and support same-sex rights.  I'm not interested in hearing him out.

    •  I don't think "they" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VirginiaJeff

      (whoever they is) knew what being gay was. It was a very different culture and time (which is part of the point of the diary). The Roman citizens were not forced to do anything. However, the conquered folks certainly were.

      You are entitled to believe as you wish, however I disagree with your view.

      •  Sure (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lotlizard

        I don't deny that homosexuality wasn't really an identity in classical times like it is today.  Paul likely is not dividing the world into gay people and straight people and throwing the former under the theological bus.

        And surely Nero was a bad guy, and presided over an empire rife with sexual abuse and rape, much of which he precipitated.  Surely that motivated a lot of disgust towards Rome, which could be tapped by early Christians to win converts.

        But I don't think the passage is clearly aimed at abuse.  He talks about those who have "sinful desires" in their hearts.  They degraded their bodies "with one another" - which reads like an expression of consenting, mutual desires.  He's certainly familiar enough with the concept of rape, but doesn't invoke it.

        Over and over, it's their shameful lusts, not those imposed from outside, which makes women give up natural sex acts for the unnatural.  Men lusted for one another.  Mutual, not natural, not coerced.  Even if this is about male prostitutes, Paul highlights that they gave up women for this.  

        Homosexuality as we know it may not have been in Paul's vocabulary, but he makes sure we know that these are men who no longer sleep with women, but keep having sex with other men.  That's a clear echo.

        Finally:  "Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

        I don't like it.  I don't think it can be explained away.

        •  I don't agree. (0+ / 0-)
          Homosexuality as we know it may not have been in Paul's vocabulary, but he makes sure we know that these are men who no longer sleep with women, but keep having sex with other men.  That's a clear echo.
          Where does he make that clear? He doesn't. You are doing what our conservative fundamentalist friends do. You are reading something into the text which simply is NOT there.

          Was Paul a homophobe (and a misogynist)? Maybe and many will say probably. But, that does not mean that he was calling homosexuality or gay love or even gay sex sinful. He was probably more of a misogynist than a homophobe (many believe he was homosexual himself), but he did not say that women were evil sinners doomed to hell and damnation. He made plenty of other comments that were not pleasant at all.

          And, yes, he was speaking of temple prostitution and other sexual abuses ... not love (gay, straight, or otherwise).

  •  The "unnatural acts" -- See Sallust & Juvenal (6+ / 0-)

    "Unnatural" had an audience in Rome and a cultural context for any Romanized reader. Sallust condemned Caesar's "unmanly" behavior and condemned the men of Rome of his day for forgetting their vir -- virtues. He is quite specific, as well, though not nearly as specific as Juvenal would be in his third Satire.

    For Roman conservative writers and satirists, the "Roman virtues" lost were manliness. They regarded men taking boys as disgraceful, but men acting as passive partners as outlandish. Juvenal, in particular, is horrified by a gay wedding for its aping of femininity.

    This attitude, whereby "men must be manly, and any acting like women is against the nature of the man," remained the most potent element of the critique of homosexuality. It may still be. (The ESV, by the way, goes ahead and translates "homosexual" for its readers.)

    The Isis cult had mock or real mystery cult lesbianism, and it was popular among the nobility. Roman satirists seem to have given this less of a lashing than what they regarded as a genuine "sign of weakness" in the "feminizing" of Roman men. Paul's criticism would have, in essence, been a commonplace with a Roman audience. They would have known exactly what he was talking about.

    I'm not sure we can disentangle "homosexuality" from the critique, though, because, as practically everyone has pointed out, there was no such thing as homosexuality as a concept. Same sex love wasn't, apparently, an issue. Same sex copulation was. . . sort of, maybe. Lifelong same sex orientation exclusive of opposite sex attachments was something that the Greeks considered impious (a neglect of duty), but the imitation of the opposite sex drew huge social scorn. If we can tease out our concepts from those, we're probably simplifying too much.

    I agree with you absolutely, though: the fundamentalists who seize upon these verses to justify a preconception are doing so because they want to, and not because the text supports them.

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:17:36 AM PST

    •  My readings and (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Geogre, VirginiaJeff

      what I have been told by bible scholars and historians gives me a different view of what was meant by femininity in ancient Rome. Others view it as being unable to control desires and particularly giving in to women. However, I don't doubt that there were those who regarded the issue as did Juvenal. Even though the concept of homosexuality did not exist at the time, that does not mean there were no gay people in ancient Rome (clearly, there most likely were). As such, both homophobia and misogyny probably existed as well.

      Thanks for your comment and the information.

      •  The misogyny of "womanly," yes (4+ / 0-)

        You can read the Juvenal here. Misogyny absolutely existed. Heck, misogynists we run into in the Renaissance to Enlightenment are almost always taking hints from Juvenal or Menippus. What's unique about Juvenal with regard to homosexuality is his revulsion of the man-bride.

        The classical satire on woman is that women are unformed. Alexander Pope summarizes this by quoting a female friend saying, "Most women have no character at all," where "character" is to be understood as an essence or inner stamp of a single personality. ("Character" is, in this case, from Theophrastus. His "Characters" is easy to read.) Women were changeable and insatiable. The Romans also had another loss of "virtue" that they complained about -- "uxoriousness" -- the man subject to the woman -- but that particular satirical theme didn't seem very potent. Perhaps I've been too far from Classical research for too long.

        Michel Foucault's The History of Sexuality, 2 discusses the types of homoeroticism in the Hellenistic period. There are very few historical or literary characters who are lifelong same-sex oriented. The Greeks tended to portray such men negatively in fiction. (One of the things that makes for the curse on Oedipus is his father's rape of Chryssipus and oath to never lay with his wife.)

        What seems to provoke the writers most is men dressing as women and acting as women. Horace, who generally does not comment on unmanly men, also satirizes women who "play" the man. None of these pagans thought of this as sin, though, as that wasn't in their framework. They thought of it as non-virtuous and sacrilege in the public sphere.

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 10:42:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for these links. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Geogre

          I will definitely check those out as time permits.

          Part of my (personal) reason for this diary (and others) is to learn and to research areas of understanding that I may have missed.

          •  I blew the reference! (0+ / 0-)

            Satire II lines 82-120 inter al. the marriage of Grachus.

            Another holds in his hand a mirror like that carried by the effeminate Otho: a trophy of the Auruncan Actor,[18] in which he gazed at his own image in full armour when he was just ready to give the order to advance--a thing notable and novel in the annals of our time, a mirror among the kit of Civil War! It needed, in truth, a mighty general to slay Galba, and keep his own skin
             it needed a citizen of highest courage to ape the splendours of the Palace on the field of Bebriacum,[19] and plaster his face with dough! Never did the quiver-bearing Samiramis[20] the like in her Assyrian realm, nor the despairing Cleopatra on board her ship at Actium. No decency of language is there here: no regard for the manners of the table. You will hear all the foul talk and squeaking tones of Cybele; a grey-haired frenzied old man presides over the rites; he is a rare and notable master of mighty gluttony, and should be hired to teach it. But why wait any longer when it were time in Phrygian fashion to lop off the superfluous flesh?
            117 Gracchus has presented to a cornet player-or perhaps it was a player on the straight horn-a dowry of four hundred thousand sesterces. The contract has been signed; the benedictions have been pronounced; a crowd of banqueters seated, the new made bride is reclining on the bosom of her husband. O ye nobles of Rome! is it a soothsayer that we need, or a Censor? Would you be more aghast, would you deem it a greater portent, if a woman gave birth to a calf, or a cow to a lamb? The man who is now arraying himself in the flounces and train and veil of a bride once carried the nodding shields[21] of Mars by the sacred thongs and sweated under the sacred burden!
            I had Satire III on my mind because it is the model of so many Augustan English satires (in particular, Pope's, and I've been working on Pope).

            Everyone's innocent of some crime.

            by The Geogre on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 10:20:38 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  OK. (0+ / 0-)

              Actually (come to think of it), I had heard of this story. The "master of mighty gluttony" comment there reminded me of it. However, was it the man's gluttony and fatness that made him malakos (soft)? Or, was it because he was a (bottom) in a gay relationship? What really offended the writer? Both issues or one or the other? It's hard to say/tell?

              It don't think we can glean much from this one writing about how ancient Roman society felt about gay sex or gay relationships as a whole (just my opinion). I'm not sure this one writing tells much about how Paul felt either. The minister that told me about it came to pretty much the same conclusion ... no conclusion at all.

              •  If a woman gave birth to a lamb (0+ / 0-)

                As I said, the critique is the un-natural element. Juvenal blasts the idea that this man's man had been once a soldier, and now he is wearing flounces and a bridal train. The deprecations are extremely clear, to me: the squeaking voice, the cosmetics, the dress. . . . Juvenal elsewhere (in III there is an extended bit about "Greeks" and the feminizing of the household) and continuously here blasts the man-as-woman rather than that the man is with a man.

                Again, and it's hard to really communicate it to someone today, they had a much more essentialist understanding. There was both an idea that the private life was irrelevant, that all life was a social matter, and the idea that nature (rather than God) forms a cow to be a cow, a horse to be a horse, and a man to be a man. A man with a man is neither here nor there, but a man putting on the shape and form of a woman was a defying of nature.

                I think Juvenal can tell us a lot, to be honest, because he's participating in a tradition of opprobrium when it comes to this idea of cross dressing.

                Everyone's innocent of some crime.

                by The Geogre on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 01:02:30 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  I understand what you're saying. (0+ / 0-)

                  But, this writer seemed just as offended by the fact that this guy was fat. Was he just ranting about his own biases and judgments about "men being woman-like" and fat? Or, does this really suggest a society-wide view? Are there other writings that are similar? I just do not give it the credibility that you do (at this point). You could be right, but it's just difficult for me to see this as you do (at this point anyway).

                •  Also, I don't see (0+ / 0-)

                  anything there about the other guy. Was the writer as repulsed by him?

                  Paul used the very same Koine Greek term for unnatural to describe men with long hair and women with short hair. To my knowledge, women are not born with long hair. That being the case, I do not see why this "natural" argument is such a big deal (even if it was true, which science has now proven that it is not).

                  •  ! They were before Linnaeus (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    librarisingnsf

                    They really didn't have genetics. :-)

                    Women's hair does not grow faster than men's? Anyway, there is a very, very long critique of gluttony in Rome, since you ask, and "fat" is a separate critique. Essentially, it's being soft. A warrior cannot be paunchy. It's the same ridicule that Americans direct at fat generals, as we still maintain that there is something "unmanly" about losing the athletic physique.

                    What made it special for Juvenal is that he, and his speakers, specifically and clearly complain about the wealth of Rome and how it was being used. Men were spending fortunes on the products of empire -- getting exotic foods and gorging themselves. Instead of these being religious feasts, they became in the service of pleasure itself. Consequently, these were losses of virtue -- the manly code of eating plain food and keeping fit -- and decadence, as men became (yes, womanly) like Greeks and Egyptians (Egyptian Greeks) in their love of luxury.

                    Juvenal will mention Stoics as a contrast and yet point out that Stoics themselves are stuffing their faces and tunics.

                    I don't have anything to say about Paul's discussion of hair. I don't know if that had a particular Roman context or if it was more Jewish, but Roman women sure as heck had a hair culture. Wealthy Roman ladies spent a long time on the hair dressing, and short hair just was not in, for ladies. (Again, I don't know any sources on discussion of the Isis cult and reaction to it.)

                    Gluttony -!->effeminacy, a tenuous connection, but a connection. On the other hand, the idea that one is given up entirely to un-manly pleasure (assuming that loving a young man is a natural pleasure, to Juvenal, but giving yourself over to it to the point that you go from a hard bodied general to a doughy 'bridge' cross dressing) is un-natural, because it is the subversion of nature as the master vice. This is delivered in the final image of the man who once held the shields of Mars now wearing a wedding dress.

                    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

                    by The Geogre on Sun Jan 12, 2014 at 06:17:37 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  So, what do you think this (0+ / 0-)

                      tells us about the passage referenced? Anything?

                      One of the posters below states that he does not believe Paul was speaking of homosexuality or loving and committed same sex relationships (or the sex involved) here. However, he does not think that Paul would have approved then. If Paul lived today, however, he believes he would approve. Is that your position as well?

      •  Clarification on Julius Caesar (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        librarisingnsf, cris0000

        Sallust was disgusted by Caesar's relations with a near Eastern king and his soldiers claiming that their general was, "Every woman's man, and every man's woman."

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 10:44:29 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Most scholars consider that particular story (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Geogre

          regarding Caesar to be a plain lie, concocted to damage his reputation.

          A lot of lies were told about Caesar, as about any powerful man.

          Freedom has two enemies: Those who want to control everyone around them...and those who feel no need to control themselves.

          by Sirenus on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 03:28:01 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sure. I think it is, too. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VirginiaJeff

            I was reporting on Sallust, though. Sallust was one of Caesar's friends, and he wrote his history late. His tone throughout is that Rome was great in the good old days, and Caesar was really great. He reported what the army said, and he shakes his head sadly.

            It's like reading a history by the Roman Paul Harvey.

            Everyone's innocent of some crime.

            by The Geogre on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:39:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Part of a "Caesar roxit/suxit bellum flammarum"? (0+ / 0-)

            The more things change, . . .

            The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

            by lotlizard on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 08:23:53 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Also, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VirginiaJeff

      For some time during the days of the Roman empire, Roman soldier were not to marry women and have families. That would interfere with their (warring) duties. So, many of these soldier took on younger male slaves as their love and sexual partners. Jesus is believed to have run into one such soldier in the story of the Roman Centurion. I may a diary on that story at a later date.

    •  Transgender is the 'Roman Offense' then? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      librarisingnsf, The Geogre

      That seems to imply that it wasn't homosexuality that Romans objected to, but transgendering.
      - Which sometimes includes homosexualism, and sometimes does not.

      That actually makes some sense with the cultural norms they appeared to otherwise have.

      It is important in much of this to remember that records of what Roman Emperor's did are often very sketchy - we have a less clear picture on guys like Nero than we do on Jesus. But the secular world often takes as fact comments made about Nero by the poets and political commentators of the day without seeing if the record supports it - as there often isn't a further record.

      OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

      by Jyotai on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 01:00:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Suetonius/Petronius: The National Enquirer Rome (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        librarisingnsf, cris0000, lotlizard

        Suetonius (Twelve Caesars) is the most common source for the wretched excess and the juicy stories about Caligula and Nero. On the other hand, the fragmentary Satyricon by Petronius has, essentially, wealthy Roman frat boys on a bender, amused and disgusted by the parties and orgies they visit.

        We can't accept Suetonius as history, but we can't ignore it, either. The work passed muster in its own day, and the Caesars he paints as crazy and disturbing were reported as being so by plenty of other sources. However, he was a scandal writer. He picks the "best" stories, the most salacious things, and he has no interest in the public work of any of the Caesars. It comes as a shock, therefore, to people to find out that Caligula did massive engineering projects in his early reign. All they know is that he made his horse a consul and would deflower brides (and grooms) at weddings before coming out to inform the guests how they were.

        Petronius, on the other hand, has two young men who are quite interested in same-sex love. In fact, in the tiny bit we have, we can see the hatred of the effeminate male again, because the narrator is disgusted by eunuchs rubbing their bottoms up against them as they sleep, despite seeking boys.

        The Latin writings I've read, which isn't that much, that talk about the topic put a heavy emphasis on the "unnaturalness" of it. A man should be manly, a woman womanly, and a man who is womanly is against nature. For the pagan Romans, nature and "natural" and "manliness" were all civic matters that pertained to the survival of the Republic and the doom of the empire.

        Everyone's innocent of some crime.

        by The Geogre on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 01:30:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  If Fox News and Maury Povich were our history... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          The Geogre

          2000 years from now... Historians will look back on this time.

          And if the only record they can find is Fox News and tapes of the Maury Povich show - what might they think of our leaders today?

          Not to say those Roman Emperors were even possibly virtuous - but that healthy skepticism of their excesses should be maintained.

          Especially in light of how nuts some of our own modern commentators are...

          Imagine if Rush Limbaugh tapes survived, as the only record mentioning the Progressive and Civil Rights movements in the USA, as well as the only mention of Racial Supremacists...

          (Our records actually might not make it very well into the future - even if they actually have them, they might not have a way to decode them. Looking at a webpage today in 2000 years might be like a modern Archaeologist looking at Mayan writing or Hieroglyphs without the Rosetta Stone. So a version of my scenario might actually happen... /shudder)

          OMG, like, gag them with a multi-colored spoon. Like, ya know.

          by Jyotai on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 04:07:04 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Tipped & recc'd, obvs. N/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    librarisingnsf

    Everyone's innocent of some crime.

    by The Geogre on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:19:51 AM PST

  •  Oh, I know who Saul of Tarsus was (4+ / 0-)

    Paul was a marketing specialist who took it upon himself to figure out how to convert pagans to Christianity. Remember how G-d (with respect to the diarist) told Abraham to demonstrate the covenant he had with Him? circumcision. How many adult men would undergo that to become a Christian? Enter Paul. Not necessary.

    The simplification is in Acts 15:29, which offers even MORE ambiguity (the crux here is Paul telling pagans "Kashruth? Never mind"). And here we have translation issues:

    King James Bible
    That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.

    Douay-Rheims Bible
    That you abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication; from which things keeping yourselves, you shall do well. Fare ye well.

    Most versions say "fornication" but a couple of them say "sexual immorality" - but if you quote this, no more black pudding or anything that involves the blood of an animal. So they CAN'T use this verse. Hence, they use Romans.
    •  Yes. (4+ / 0-)

      And, fornication is another misunderstood concept in the NT. It is (usually) translated from the Koine Greek "pornos" which relates to prostitution. It does not mean all sex outside of civil marriage as many Christians believe. "Sexual Immorality" is translated from porneia. It is used to mean adultery, (temple) prostitution, pederasty, and anything else that a particular person or culture thinks is sexually immoral. It's pretty much a catch all phrase or word, and as such is pretty meaningless.

      Thanks, Dave.

  •  In my experience (0+ / 0-)

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10 is the real smoking gun text for those inclined to judge and consign others to hell for not complying with their arbitrary standard

    1Co 6:9  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
    Whether they are using this or Romans 1 or 2Tim 3 (which is talking about people within the church rather than without but provides a laundry list of purported sins church folk use to condemn others with ) all of them make an argument from ignorance to draw the conclusion they do from them.

    Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

    by awesumtenor on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:34:42 AM PST

    •  Not so much. That whole passage is: (0+ / 0-)

      "9 Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites,  10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God.  11 And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."

      The passage is actually cheering the believers on. They were former sinners but now they're saved.
      And the rest of that chapter is a rant against fornication and against prostitutes.

      Paul was a Hellenized Jew and, like others of his time, he thought of sex as more or less unclean. At one point he advised believers that it is better to marry than to burn with desire.
      He completely opposed sex outside of marriage, which includes male to male sex. But he didn't seem to emphasize that more than heterosexual sex.

      •  True (0+ / 0-)

        The guy was broadly against sex in almost any situation.  But he does pull homosexuality out from fornication and adultery, as a separate sin.  He doesn't like it.  And he doesn't like the "effeminate" either, which, if not directly going after gay men, I find pretty troubling.  

        On top of that, if it's about marriage, he could always have endorsed same-sex marriage.  If God is speaking through you, you may receive concepts 2000 years early.

        •  Paul didn't endorse marriage (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          librarisingnsf

          He told the church at Corinth that marriage was better than fornicating but his exhortation was those who could abide it should embrace neither per 1Corinthians chapter 7...

          Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

          by awesumtenor on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 10:38:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  The passage in context (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VirginiaJeff

        is doing that... however we are not talking about how Paul of Tarsus meant it; we are talking how fundies use it to further their agenda... and fundies treat the passage as if it ends at verse 10.

        Fear doesn't just breed incomprehension. It also breeds a spiteful, resentful hate of anyone and everyone who is in any way different from you.

        by awesumtenor on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 10:30:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Most Christians "in the know" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WearyIdealist, VirginiaJeff

      do not use this passage to condemn homosexuality or same sex sex because of translation issues. See my diary on I Corinthians 6:9-10. It explains.

  •  "When in Lesbos, do as..." (0+ / 0-)

    Where do we get that saying, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do"?

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:50:38 AM PST

  •  I suppose I should start by stating that I believe (4+ / 0-)

    the Bible was written by humans who are recounting their religious experiences and opinions, and not dictated by God.

    For anyone still reading at this point, I usually evaluate someone by taking into account the context of the culture they are living in.  Thus, I give someone more credit for being against slavery in 1814 than in 2014.  (And I realize that the standard I'm using, assuming that "slavery is wrong", is itself a manifestation of my own culture.)

    Thus, I respect Paul for how far he moved from his culture, expressed in his behavior while he used the name Saul, versus what he later preached and wrote following his experience of Jesus.  Basically, he went from a very rigid, unloving person to one who was much more open and loving of other people.  Frankly, I'd have to say there was more improvement in how he lived his life as a result of his religious experience than there has been in mine as a result of my religious experience.

    Some of what he wrote would still be considered "liberal" today, while other things are either irrelevant (can't remember the last time I got into a discussion about eating meat sacrificed to idols) or "conservative".  So I admire those areas where he demonstrated growth while recognizing that he was still stuck in his culture in other areas, as are we all.

    Finally, I'll just briefly mention in this post which is overly long, that the passages which irritate modern people the most are in the letters that most Biblical scholars (who don't believe that God dictated the Bible) are convinced were written by someone else using Paul's name, a common practice in ancient times.

  •  While Romans is considered Paul's magnum opus (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, librarisingnsf, VirginiaJeff

    I feel the 3rd chapter of II Corinthians is his coup de grace.  The side by side comparison on the old covenant and the new covenant (prophesied many hundreds of years earlier in Jeremiah) is a schadenfreudelishuss smack down to christianist fundamentalists who have a "veil  over their eyes" whenever they hear the reading of the Law.  Paul continues what Jesus has begun -- opening our eyes and ears and hearts and minds to a new and different reality at hand.  Things have changed.  

    Government works when you elect those who want it to. --askyron (2013)

    by Simul Iustus et Peccator on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 08:18:08 AM PST

  •  Hang on a second here ... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ahianne, Mikey
    Paul's audience in Rome was (overwhelmingly) heterosexual. They exchanged their natural use or desires to do unnatural acts (for them).
    What on earth gives you the idea that Romans were engaging in regular same-gender sexual behavior against their "natural" desires?
    It is natural for homosexuals to have same sex sex. But, it is not natural for heterosexuals to have same sex sex. It bears mentioning that many of these folks were also already married, and still participating in these activities.
    I would like to take this moment to mention the concept of bisexuality.  Perhaps you've heard of it?
    •  I mean (0+ / 0-)

      I think what Paul is doing is what Christian pastors are doing in Russia and Africa.  Someone else is the biggest, baddest, greatest power in the world.  Not you.   How can you establish your superiority over them?  Not by wealth or strength.

      Instead, you craft a moral case against them, that the powerful are corrupt and worthless.  I'm not against that tactic, and there are plenty of good ways to do it.  But the one that gets people excited is aiming your moral condemnation between the thighs of your rival.  It lets you be lurid while being pure, and channels some sexual envy into self-righteousness.

    •  I'm sure there were (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      WearyIdealist, VirginiaJeff

      a few bisexuals and a few homosexuals there. But, the overwhelming number of folks were most likely heterosexual. And, the concept of sexual orientation is a fairly new one. It did not exist in Paul's time. So, he believed that they all were exchanging their natural inclinations for unnatural ones. It is irrelevant to the interpretation of the passage that there may (and probably were) have been some homosexuals and bisexuals doing these things. Remember, we are talking about rampant prostitution and the rape of foreigners (for their sexual pleasure).

      •  I'm not talking about Paul's interpretation (0+ / 0-)

        of events so much as your interpretation of his words.  What basis do you have for saying that the people Paul is talking about were heterosexual people engaging in same-gender sex against their natural inclinations?  Rather than, you know, people who were engaging in same-gender sex because they had natural inclinations to?

        "The overwhelming number of folks were most likely heterosexual"?  Again, what are you basing this on?

        •  Because, (0+ / 0-)

          as I stated, Paul did NOT know anything about sexual orientation. That social science did not exist at the time. His assumption would have been (and was) that their "natural instincts" were to have sex with the opposite sex. It pretty much says so in the text itself.

          Why do I think that the overwhelming number of these folks having this temple prostitution and street prostitution as well were heterosexual? The entire LGBT population (according to studies such as those out of UCLA's Williams Institute) is estimated at under 5% in the United States. I don't see why the ancient Rome population would be any different. And, much of the city engaged in these activities. It (statistically) stands to reasons.

          Why do you ask? Do you have evidence to the contrary?

          •  Evidence to the contrary (0+ / 0-)

            is actually pretty simple: much of the city was engaging in those activities.

            The entire LGBT population of the United States willing to admit themselves as such in a survey is actually a lot closer to 10% than 5%, and that's with overwhelming societal pressure against acknowledging it to oneself, let alone to others.  In a society without such pressures, such as ancient Rome where it was in fact considered perfectly normal, why would you assume the statistics would be the same?

            Paul's assumption that people were "acting against their natural desires" comes from an a priori assumption that same-gender sex (or perhaps anal sex regardless of the genders involved) is unnatural.  Yes, Paul came from a society where that was generally held to be the case; that excuses him to a degree from assuming heterosexuality was the default for all of these people, as he had no context for sexual orientation.  Your assumption of the same can't be so easily excused.

            •  Well, I am NOT (0+ / 0-)

              asking to be excused by you or anyone else, for that matter. I stand by my statements. Even if it was 10%, that would STILL make it statistically reasonable to make such an assumption. And, I suspect that it was less.

              I find your comment pedantic and obtuse, and you're not even doing that very well (considering the facts). My words were INTERPRETING what Paul wrote and what I believed that he believed; NOT what I believe, although I do STILL believe that the overwhelming majority of the folks doing these things were heterosexual, and I am not the only one. Many folks in the more progressive churches believe this to be the case.

              Rev Samuel Kader in his book "Openly Gay, Openly Christian" writes on page 85:

              "So they exchanged their heterosexual orientation for homosexual activity. Not for a homosexual orientation, because a heterosexual person cannot make themselves have a different orientation, but they could pick up a different behavior that is not instinctive to them."

              Rev (and former Elder of the UFMCC) Don Eastman makes pretty much the very same statement in his sermon series "Not a Sin, Not a Sickness."

              So, you can believe that they were all homosexuals or bisexuals if you wish. I intend to stick with my statement until someone gives me evidence that I am incorrect. You certainly have not achieved that here.

              •  What would you consider "evidence"? (0+ / 0-)

                Let's leave out the question of why someone would "pick up a behavior not instinctive to them"; I mean generally when people have non-procreative sex, it's because at least one of them genuinely finds the other one sexy, and saying that can't be true and requiring a different explanation strikes me as a considerable violation of Occam's Razor.  But never mind that.

                What would theoretically constitute the kind of evidence you're looking for?  What are you holding out for that history hasn't provided, that would demonstrate to you that men were having sex with men because they were actually sexually attracted to them?

                •  Men do have sex with men (0+ / 0-)

                  because they are attracted to them in many cases (in modern society maybe in the great majority of cases, but not all. Many men in prison have sex with other men, and they are quite heterosexual).

                  But, that is NOT what is or was going on here (in ancient Rome). Do you know anything about pagan fertility cult practices? Surely you have heard of those from the Canaanite religion during the days of the Levites. And, there are others. In addition, in Rome during those days, there was an anything goes type of mentality. That included sexual issues. So, yes, heterosexuals were having sex with others of the same sex (and, probably the other way around as well).

                  Surely, you are not trying to suggest to me that ancient Rome was a hotbed of mostly sexually obsessed, raving. and idolatrous homosexuals and bisexuals -- with a few heterosexuals thrown in for good measure. Really???

                  Come on, batya, you are just not making any sense at all here. And, it has nothing to do with Occam's razor. There is no history to indicate that all these folks were homosexual or bisexual. Quote that history if you think there is.

                  •  You haven't answered my question. (0+ / 0-)

                    What theoretical historical evidence would indicate, to your satisfaction, that all these folks who were having sex with both men and women were bisexual?

                    (Sidebar: I do know a bit about pagan fertility cult practices.  Do you know anything about the erastes/eromenos practice common in ancient Greece and Rome?)

                    •  "All these folks?" (0+ / 0-)

                      I cannot imagine anything would convince me of what you suggest, because it does not make sense. At this point, I do not think we will agree, so my suggestion is to agree to disagree (and, 86 the insults -- we simply view the situation differently).

                      If castrating these very young passive male prostitutes and dressing them as women is somehow suppose to attract homosexuals and bisexuals (looking for a same sex partner), someone got extremely confused. This was done to attract men looking for sex with women (i.e. heterosexuals) to aid in their fertility worship to whichever fertility goddess (probably Cybele in Rome).

                      And, this is my last comment on the subject. While my comment was an interesting detail, it was not the major point of this diary. I have no interest in pursuing such an issue further. If you do, I suggest that you create your own diary.

                    •  Oh, yes, (0+ / 0-)

                      I do know of the pederasty of the ancient Greeks (and, to a lesser extent the ancient Romans). With the ancient Romans, it had more to do with their soldiers taking on very young males/boys as lovers because they were not permitted to marry women. Having a wife and family would get in the way of their (warring) duties. I'm sure some of those folks were homosexuals, some were probably bisexual, and some were probably heterosexual as well. This does not bolster your argument (with me).

                      I don't know why you think a heterosexual male would NEVER ever have sex with another male (for any reason whatsoever). Perhaps, you have some sexual issues of your own (it certainly causes one to wonder).

                      •  I thought we were 86ing the insults? (0+ / 0-)

                        Fine, I'm saying it directly: your entire argument here has been closed-minded and homophobic in the extreme.

                        Because you're essentially painting a huge NO HOMO over the entire documented history of men having sex with men on a regular basis, and coming up with reason upon reason why men having sex with other men should still be considered heterosexual.  And you've said flat-out that nothing at all would convince you that the majority of men who had sex with both men and women were bisexual.  Because it just doesn't make sense to you.

                        When you say that there's no historical evidence, and then say that there is literally nothing you would theoretically consider historical evidence, you've officially outed yourself as Not At Home To Reason.

                        Good day, sir.

                        •  So, now I'm homophobic? (0+ / 0-)

                          Because I'm saying that this passage is not about homosexuality and that we should ignore the fundies? Again, you are making no sense. I never stated that their was no homosexuality or same sex sex in the past. I stated that this passage was not about homosexuality, not that it never existed. I'm gay myself.

                          See, this is what I mean. You are misunderstanding me and what I am say. Apparently, I'm guilty of the same. We are talking past each other, and issuing insults all the while. My faith tradition does not support that behavior, and I don't think yours does either.

                          That is why I stated that we should just drop it.

        •  Perhaps this will (0+ / 0-)

          also help explain. Much of the prostitution (and particularly temple) was non-procreative. So, some of it had to do with heterosexual anal sex, perhaps. However, a whole LOT of it was male/male as well. It's history ... it just was.

  •  To me, the most important verse in Romans 1 (0+ / 0-)

    ...will always be verse 33.

    And that's why they took it out.

    America, we can do better than this...

    by Randomfactor on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 09:10:46 AM PST

  •  as a combination of the above (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    librarisingnsf

    Seems to me that Paul who was Saul was just as phobic about sex and women, if not women in general, as he was about .. well, the rest of it.
    But whether he himself was one of the "gay mafia" around the Christ or not, he was certainly squeamish about sex.

    •  Perhaps. (0+ / 0-)

      It certainly reads that way in many of his letters (or those he is given credit for writing).

      A minister and missionary once told me, however, that Paul may have seemed squeamish about sex, but that he had a catamite in every port. I'm not sure where he got that nor have I been able to establish the truth (or non-truth) about that, but I assure you that this minister is well respected.

  •  I personally think a god who (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TexasTom

    uses the torture and crucifixion of an innocent man to communicate his "love" or "forgiveness" to his creation is an "unnatural act".

    •  Yes... (0+ / 0-)

      ...this is something that has never made sense to me.

      For that matter, the extreme fetishization of the torture and crucifixion of Jesus by certain conservative Christians (Mel Gibson comes to mind) impresses me as quite creepy and unhealthy.  It ends up being all about how Jesus died, and not about what he said and did when he was alive.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 01:00:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I doubt he ever was alive. (0+ / 0-)

        The more I read, the more I believe he is a conglomerate mythology.  Richard Carrier's new book "On the Historicity of Jesus Christ" should come out in the next couple of months, and I am looking forward to it.

        As far as this discussion goes, I get tired of the continual conversations about what the biblical texts REALLY said and REALLY didn't say.  It's all unevidenced heresay anyway and I really would like to see mankind move along and leave this texts on the shelf next to other mythologies.

        •  Free Will - Use It! (3+ / 0-)
          As far as this discussion goes, I get tired of the continual conversations about what the biblical texts REALLY said and REALLY didn't say.
          Whether or not the Christian Bible is "unevidenced heresay" or not, what does you getting tired of "continual conversations" about biblical texts have to do with the desire of others to discuss them?

          Who left the Universe and appointed you as 'god' to judge what others do in the context of their interests?

          Consider using your free will to leave others alone who do not share your view of life. Please. Thank you.

          Are you attempting to create a mythology about yourself indicating your overarching wise prescriptions about how others should use their time?

          Like: 'Here comes Fishtroller01, mocking all the way!'

          It gets tiring! You're becoming a cliché around here. And, no one is listening, aside from the choir to whom you preach.

          You meet them halfway with love, peace, and persuasion ~ And expect them to rise for the occasion...

          by paz3 on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 12:19:12 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  How Jesus died (0+ / 0-)
        For that matter, the extreme fetishization of the torture and crucifixion of Jesus by certain conservative Christians (Mel Gibson comes to mind) impresses me as quite creepy and unhealthy.
        I always get a chuckle out of what these same Christians would be bandying about if Jesus had been executed, say, on a hanging-gallows or on an electric chair....   :-)
        It ends up being all about how Jesus died, and not about what he said and did when he was alive.
        Which is what it all should be about....

        Keep your Powder Dry and your Data Local!

        by thanatokephaloides on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:45:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  The story does not claim (0+ / 0-)

      that the crucifixion of Jesus occurred in order to communicate with his creation.  It claims that the crucifixion was payment of a ransom.

      I'm a Christian, therefore I'm a liberal.

      by VirginiaJeff on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:15:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh that makes it so much better! (0+ / 0-)

        How the the murder of an innocent man absolve another man's sins? What kind of god needs to deal with human beings in that manner? Ransom?  Really?

        This is the question that people who believe in this god need to ask themselves.... does salvation make any sense?  And if one doesn't believe in the story of Adam and Eve and the "original sin", then doesn't that whole salvation story becomes meaningless?  If you were a god, is this the way you would operate the universe?  I personally think that most human beings would come up with something a whole lot better than this crucifixion/salvation scheme.

        •  That's cool. I just (0+ / 0-)

          have a compulsion for correcting false claims.  (Usually it's rightwingers who keep me busy.  But anti-religion zealots are almost as bad.)

          I'm a Christian, therefore I'm a liberal.

          by VirginiaJeff on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 07:31:21 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Yes, asking questions and pointing (0+ / 0-)

            out absurdities in religious claims IS really "zealotry".  Now if a GOPer made a ridiculous unevidenced claim about a topic, holding that claim to the fire of scrutiny, skepticism and reason would NOT be zealotry- right?  I just want to get the meaning of the term zealotry pinned down.

            •  Someone who (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              librarisingnsf, Batya the Toon

              trolls diaries and conversations in order to post variations of the same basic declaration over and over.  You know, like the homophobe who keeps leaping into threads about gays.  It doesn't matter if the subject is ENDA or the Matthew Shepard Act or marriage rights -- he's not interested in the actual topic being discussed.  He's just got to satisfy his compulsion to tell people that "Two men having sex is unnatural and disgusting!"  And, of course, after awhile everyone knows the guy is simply projecting his personal issues.  That's you.  

              I'm a Christian, therefore I'm a liberal.

              by VirginiaJeff on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 04:06:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I'm so glad you have me all figured out. (0+ / 0-)

                I hope you also liked my posts on raising monarch butterflies, the ills of charter schools and, oh year, high energy particle physics, Iran sanctions, guns in capitol buildings, Darwin's biography, David Brooks and pot... etc.  Yep, I'm a real one trick pony.

                Based on what I have experienced with you, all you seem to do is apologize for religious ideas and troll me. Now would that be a fair picture of your activities on Kos?

                 As for me, if I read ideas and claims about the world that make no sense or have no evidence to back them up, or defenses of immoral institutions and their representatives, whether political, religious or cultural, I'll address them.  If you don't like what I post, argue it with me or ignore me.  

                In the meantime, please take your psychiatric analysis act and practice it on someone else. Thanks.

  •  Don't have time to read all the comments (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    librarisingnsf, VirginiaJeff

    because I'm at work so if this has been said before I apologize.

    Anyway, this is a wonderful article and it very similar to what Fr Jim Martin wrote in either America magazine or just a facebook post (I know I read it on facebook).  He was stressing that you can not interpret Paul's writing in today's terms.  Sexuality and prostitution was totally different in biblical times and he gave a long explanation about slaves and soft men and how young slave boys were frequently used for sex.  His take, as is yours, was that Paul was not condemning homosexuality, he was condemning the Roman practices of his time.

  •  One of the biggest problems is that of reading (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    librarisingnsf, VirginiaJeff

    translation(s) - sometimes of translation(s) - and attempting to categorize socio-political thoughts, opinions, acts, and ideas of preceding Centuries and cultures in terms of current events and/or current language.  Perhaps the worst of these anachronistic neologisms is use of the word, "homosexual", as a catch-all, carry-all, for the 20th Century - or even earlier Centuries - "translation" of words from Koine Greek, Latin, et. al; and then attempt to use that false rendering as "proof" of what was said, or written back then.

    The word didn't even come into English till the very latter end of the 19th Century - as a kind of synonym for the German, "Urning", which was beginning to show up in psychological treatises.  Thus, the various and sundry behaviors of Ancient Rome - around the time of the first few Caesars - DO NOT  "translate" into a single entity in any way whatsoever.  And, merely substituting a late 19th, early 20th, Century descriptive for a very poor King James Version of a book that was translated in the Literary English of the 17th Century is, simply, ridiculous.

    But then again, the bulk of the thousands of Jackasses-in-the-Pulpit today, can rarely if ever, even pronounce words of more than 2 syllables in the King James Version correctly to begin with.  So . . . one can hardly expect them to have the slightest understanding of the whole concept of "linguistics", especially insofar as linguistics both characterize, and categorize, a culture.  

    •  Can't pronounce the words (0+ / 0-)
      But then again, the bulk of the thousands of Jackasses-in-the-Pulpit today, can rarely if ever, even pronounce words of more than 2 syllables in the King James Version correctly to begin with.
      Oh, you mean like Mahershalalhashbaz (Isaiah 8:3) or Pelejoezelgibborabiadsarshalom (Isaiah 9:6).    :-)

      (N.B.: The latter is presented in translation in most English-language Bibles, but is employed as a single word proper name in Isaiah's original Hebrew. For the dirty details, please look here.)

      Keep your Powder Dry and your Data Local!

      by thanatokephaloides on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 11:59:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  are you sure the KJ uses "G-d" ? (0+ / 0-)

    I had always considered the KJ a rather well rounded, traditional translation, whose literary value is widely considered excellent  - and this G-d nonsense is usually confined to the realms of idiotic fundamentalists. God does not mind us talking about him, neither in word nor writing.

    •  Sorry. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VirginiaJeff

      I didn't mean to put that in the Romans 3:23 quote. I usually quote the KJV as is.

      I use that in my own comments in case I make a mistake or if someone misquotes me. It is not meant to offend anyone.

    •  Oh, btw, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mikey

      many of my Jewish friends do that as well. It is NOT confined to "idiotic fundamentalists."

    •  Actually, writing G-d... (3+ / 0-)

      ...comes primarily from the Jewish traditions, where it is considered a sign of respect NOT to spell out the name of G-d.

      Basically, it a case of going to some lengths to avoid even accidental misuse (or disrespectful use) of G-d's name.

      I don't see its use all that often among Christian fundamentalists.

      The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

      by wesmorgan1 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:10:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  "God" isn't the name of God. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Batya the Toon

      There are several names of God that get translated as "God." Yhwh (Yahweh or Jehovah being one.) In Genesis the Elohim (a plural form referring to heavenly beings) created the world.
         There is a legend that God had a secret name that has been forgotten.
         The commandment re taking the Lord's name in vain probably referred to swearing a false oath. Another context might be that, by using God's name, God could be called forth into this world, which would be a major sacrilege.
         We capitalize "God" to distinguish the Hebrew God, who is now conceived of as the sole existing God, from the various other gods who had followings back in the day.
        The new convention of writing G-d is just silly.

      •  As I've always said ... (0+ / 0-)

        "The English word 'God' isn't a name, it's a job description."

        (I'm Orthodox Jewish, and I don't hold with writing "G-d."  Many of my coreligionists do.  There is not, so far as I know, any rabbinic opinion that writing "God" is actually forbidden.)

  •  G_D (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    librarisingnsf, VirginiaJeff

    My understanding of this spelling convention has been that it is intended to respect and offer an English imitation of the Jewish tradition of spelling God's name (rendered by the KJV as "Jehovah") YHWH, omitting all vowels so as to make God's name unpronounceable.

  •  A general comment on Romans 1 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    librarisingnsf, VirginiaJeff

    Thanks for an excellent diary.  

    I am something of a Christian scholar and have spent much of my life puzzled by Romans 1--not just the reference to homosexual behavior, but the entire angry, condemnatory tone of the argument.  As students of Luke-Acts know, one of the chief challenges facing Christianity in its earliest days (as a Jewish sect) was how to deal with people whom various laws and traditions in the Judaism of their day had been identified as unclean, defective, or otherwise unacceptable to God.  Jesus' teachings (and actions) had called into question these judgmental attitudes, yet as good Jews these early Christians were understandably reluctant to dismiss the injunctions of Jewish law.  Luke-Acts spends several chapters (esp. 8-15 of Acts) explaining how the early Christians were challenged by the Spirit they had received from Jesus to accept these unacceptable people: Samaritans, magicians, eunuchs, tanners.  The narrative concludes with the very self-conscious decision that Gentiles were just as acceptable to God as Jews--even without circumcision and obedience to Jewish law.  Luke-Acts identifies Paul as the most insistent advocate for accepting these "different" people as equals.

    In Romans (See esp. chapter 14) Paul's generosity towards people whom Jewish law would dismiss as unacceptable is particularly obvious when he specifically insists that people can be completely acceptable to God whether they observe (Jewish) holy days such as Sabbaths, or not; whether they eat meat which might have been slaughtered in "pagan" rituals, or not.  Indeed, he specifically asserts that on the basis of Jesus' teachings he thinks that nothing is "clean or unclean" in and of itself.  (I think he is correct in his understanding of Jesus on this point.)

    Throughout Romans Paul urges people not to judge others, to be patient with them, and to accept one another without arguing about beliefs or practices.  It is in light of this tone that dominates the letter that I long found the harshness and judgmentalism, the emphasis on the wrath of God as the defining characteristic of God, etc. in Chapter 1 as dissonant and problematic.

    In recent years I have found what I consider an adequate way of understanding Chapter 1.  Very briefly (because I've gone on too long), I think Chapter 1 is a rhetorical ploy rather than a statement of Paul's own beliefs.  The polemic against Gentiles that he offers there was well-known to Jews of the time.  You can find it in the Wisdom of Solomon (in the Apocrypha), a 1st-century B.C. Jewish text.  I think that Chapter 1 was a kind of rhetorical or theological judo move aimed at the more conservative Jewish elements in the Roman church (people with whom Paul had great sympathy since he had himself held very similar views only a few years earlier).  The argument essentially says, "Those gentiles deserve the wrath of God because they chose not to recognize him.  That's why they are so subhuman in their behavior. ..."  Just about the time his target audience are saying, "Yeah.  That's right!" Paul opens Chapter 2 (as the diarist righty notes) by saying, "But it turns out that we Jews are no better, and if God is the kind of God who brings his wrath on people, we've got it coming, too."  

    In this reading, the judgment that gentiles are sexually perverse is part of a longstanding Jewish polemic against gentiles.  I do not think that Paul shared in the conviction that God had given up gentiles to sexual depravity.  He had come to think that "Jew" and "Gentile" were merely cultural distinctions without any theological substance.  He knew too many good gentiles to believe what the polemic said.

    That is not to say, of course, that Paul approved of homosexual practice.  (I suspect he didn't, though I further suspect that if he lived now, he might).  But it is to say that Paul does not (except in this piece of rhetorical judo) rail against homosexual practice as many modern knucklehead preachers do.  He rails much more against judgmentalism and lack of love than he does against any form of sexual practice.

    Again, thanks to libra for this fine diary.

  •  Paul was "Other:" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    librarisingnsf

    As in the worst kind of hypocrite--a reformed reformer.

    "One of the boss' hangers-on sometimes comes to call, at times you least expect. Tryin' to bully you, strongarm you, inspire you with fear--it has the opposite effect."--Bob Dylan, "Floater"

    by oldmaestro on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:04:19 PM PST

  •  Context (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    librarisingnsf, Batya the Toon

    The writings which became the Bible were written in a time  where Hedonism was rampant. Polytheism wasn't a new thing, but the attitude within the Roman empire that "anything is permissible" was a very corrupting factor. Counseling against that wasn't a bad thing.

    Same-sex intimacy is a natural instinct. Animals do it all the time, and as complex as we are, we are animals.

    It is too bad that this warning to the emerging 'cult of Christ' got carried forward in such a way that it became a prohibition, and has resulted in the blood of innocents.
     

    The difference for me is consent. Are you receiving a gift or taking a prize?

    by MightyMoose on Sat Jan 11, 2014 at 06:46:38 AM PST

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site