Term Paper: Bible and Homosexuality and the Bible: Gen

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Bible and Homosexuality

Homosexuality and the Bible: Gen 1:28 and Exegesis

The Book of Genesis records the first set of explicit instructions concerning human sexuality: "Be fruitful and multiply…"

Not only does the divine injunction of the Old Testament presuppose a natural order but it also speaks of the nature of love from the perspective of God. Fulton Sheen writes that "human generation is related in a special way to eternity. Sex love is not meant for death: rather, Eros is for Bios; love is for life. But once the Divine Source of Love is denied, then Eros becomes death."

What this means is that the divine command for man and woman to multiply through copulation is related to the divine plan also known as Providence. It is the view of Providence that Love should beget life and that life should foster love. As Dante shows in the Divine Comedy (referencing, of course, Augustine), man owes all allegiance to God and His Law and shows Him love by obeying His commands; sin, we are told, is nothing other than misplaced love. From this perspective we may assess the question of homosexuality and how it relates to Biblical evidence of God's injunctions. This paper will give an exegesis and focus on what God through the Bible has to say about homosexuality.

The Origin of Natural Law and God's Covenant with Man

Phylllis A. Bird states that "in the history of biblical interpretation and dogmatic speculation, Gen 1:26-28 has proved remarkably fecund as a source of exegetical and theological reflection."

This fecundity has much to do with the implicit instructions in the foundation that Genesis represents, both as a narrative account of the history of creation and as an imperative for the building of society. For example, before the Fall, man had one commandment -- and when that was broken, so too was the original covenant which man had with God. Because man was now at odds with God and His grace, so too was he to the same extent at odds with his own human nature. An inversion had occurred in the spiritual as well as in the natural realm.

This understanding serves as a stepping stone to the Bible. According to John Hayes and Carl Holladay, exegesis is an exercise in "leading" -- which is to say that a Scriptural exegesis acts as a kind of interpretation, helping people to understand more fully the Word of God (1).

The history of humanity is the story of attempting to restore the balance between reason and passion, Heaven and Hell. The new covenant that man made with God following the Fall (and renewed in several ways throughout the history of the Old Testament) was directly related to the Incarnation -- to, in other words, the taking on of man's sins by God Himself in the Person of Jesus Christ. Christ's sacrifice on the cross, memorialized in the Last Supper the night before, served (like all things Christ did) as a lesson for posterity: the subjugation of the lower nature to the higher law -- the will of the Father. Christ's life was a living reflection of how to serve the will of God.

The history of Christianity is comprised of men who, because of the fallen nature that remained fallen after the Incarnation, contended with one another over how best to interpret the Word of God, which was now comprised in the New Testament (which the Church viewed as the fulfillment of the Old Testament). Although man remained fallen, he now had access to the sacraments that Christ instituted as a means of providing grace, which in effect allowed men of good will to build upon (or perfect) their natures. Through grace, man could be once more guided in the spirit that dictated to Adam and Eve before the Fall, "Be fruitful and multiply." Indeed, this injunction to be fruitful is a continual concern of Christ, and appears in many of His parables -- whether of the fig tree that bore no fruit, or of the field whose fruit grew up with weeds, or of the man who buried his gold coins instead of using them to turn a profit. Fruitfulness in the realm of human sexuality consisted in the generation of new life.

Modern Exegesis and the View of Homosexuality

Today, with the advent of Freudian psychology, a regression away from Aristotelian ethics, a modernist tendency toward skepticism, and a divorce from the kind of scholastic thought for which the medieval age of faith and the Thomists were known, Scriptural exegesis is confounded by innumerable assumptions and presuppositions. Christopher Elwood gives an example of this when he discusses the treatment of sodomy by exegetes throughout the ages:

In this study I am concerned with interpretations of the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah and an early modern discourse on sodomy. I am not inquiring in any direct way into interpretations of homosexuality, a category that first appeared in Europe and North America in the late nineteenth century…and so, to avoid anachronistic distortion, I do not apply the term to the practices or identities of sexual dissidents in the early modern period.

What we see is an unwillingness to drop an attachment to semantics and a desire to engage in a pseudo-exploration of sodomy as though it were something different from what is now called homosexuality. It is an attempt to read history through a lens that purposefully distorts and allows the exegete to imagine that meaning is impossible to find (because, he implicitly suggests, objectivity does not exist). Rather than beginning with the evidence and then asserting a position, such exegetes assert a position and then apply evidence to support it. The problem is not that evidence cannot be made to support a thesis, the problem is that in so doing one loses a sense of objective analysis.

To assist in the objective analysis of the natural law, implicitly laid down in Genesis, the early Christians applied the learning of the Greek pagans, whose objective analyses and philosophical speculations helped found Western thought. Their philosophies were coupled with the Word of God by men like Augustine and, later, Thomas Aquinas, who helped bridge the gap between faith and reason to show, indeed, how faith was built upon reason. Therefore, in the tradition of such Doctors of the Church, one might like first, when analyzing Scripture, to appeal to reason, and then apply himself to divine revelation. Indeed, as far as objectivity is concerned, there can be no greater objective or imperative in all of Scripture than the clear simple injunction to "Be fruitful and multiply." However, the problem is that rather than meditate upon the ancients and then the Word of God, modern exegesis meditates upon the moderns: for example: "In 1948 the Kinsey Institute Report changed general attitudes toward homosexuality and heterosexuality. Instead of viewing those practices as polar opposites people were led to view everyone on a continuum between exclusive heterosexuality and exclusive homosexuality."

There is, in this factual comment, no reference to what has come before in terms of the West's ancestral philosophy. Instead, we assume that we may start fresh with a tabula rasa, and wipe clean the slate of our inheritance and redefine the natural law according to what a pair like Freud or Kinsey had to say.

Because of this stance, modern exegetes are inclined to redefine sodomy as Michel Foucault does: "Homosexuality appeared as one of the forms of sexuality when it was transposed from the practice of sodomy into a kind of interior androgyny, a hermaphrodism of the soul. The sodomite had been a temporary aberration, the homosexual was now a species."

From such a perspective, a modern exegete assumes a disconnect between modern homosexuality and ancient sodomy. But is the difference real -- or even significant? Indeed, as David Malick asserts, an exegete named William Pittenger maintains that homosexuality is now supported from a 'theological basis' in four ways. (1) He says love is the dominant quality by which one measures all human activity. (2) He asserts that since between 10 and 15% of the human race is homosexual, there must be theological relevance for these people. (3) He relegates specific Old Testament and New Testament passages either to cultural nonrelevance or to a lack of truth and thus a lack of authority. (4) He insists that the variety in God's creation allows for variety in mankind as they express love toward other men and women.

But the problem that exists in such an assertion is that Biblical scripture is entirely misrepresented. Not only is the divine injunction of Genesis glossed over, but so are the numerous other Biblical citations that refer to God's displeasure with men and women who violate the natural law by perverting the sexual nature.

The Pauline Epistles: Building on Genesis

For example, one may look at the Pauline epistle to the Corinthians: "Do you not know that the unjust will not possess the kingdom of God? Do… [END OF PREVIEW]

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