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Homosexuality & the Bible - Chapters 5-7
I. Reflection video by Pastor Rob (Will be posted here on Thurs Mar 5, 2021)
II. Reading for the week: Chapters 5-7, (p21-36)
III. Scriptures cited this week: John 1:14; Matthew 19:3-5, 10-12; Acts 8:26-40; Deuteronomy 23:1; Acts 8:57
IV. Summary of the reading.
The bible doesn’t say anything about homosexuality. Jesus doesn’t have anything to say about homosexuality. It appears that EVERYONE else has something to say about homosexuality and they use the bible and Jesus to do it. One fundamentalist, or literalist, witness is: “God said it. I believe it. That settles it.” In this session we learn that it’s not the easy. An old African proverb comes to mind: Until the lion tells the story, the hunter will always be the hero.” Likewise, in scripture those who translate and interpret the story, control the story – but that’s not the only story. Considering all of the meditations on the marginalized and the oppressed attributed as the words and deeds of Jesus in the gospels it appears to me that those in earthly power provide the hunter’s point of view, and Jesus, as a representative of the powers of God, offering the lion’s point of view. This is an example of how we are not just talking about homosexuality and the bible. Our conversation in this class is reframing how we understand and live with our sacred texts, how we understand God and humanity, and our place and purpose with both.
V. Discussion/ Journal Questions:
Pastor Rob highly recommends keeping a journal to write down your thoughts and feeling about our discussion questions and anything else that comes to mind during the study. Not only is a journal an excellent tool for reflection but once finished provides you with a wonderful tool for discernment in the future. Your journal will capture your thoughts in real time. After the fact you can then return to your journal to remember where you were and what you thought about the role of scripture and how we interpret these sacred words - which is really what this class is all about.
A. Chapter 5: The Bible Does Not Speak About Homosexuality
1. (p. 21) “Remember, if we are going to give our best effort in trying to understand biblical texts, we must look at each passage in context. (See def for context in session 1 notes.) An examination of history, language and culture are all essential in this process. If we are going to understand the Bible’s use of the words homosexual or homosexuality, we must understand the definition and etymology (or origin) of those words.”
Where you surprised to learn that the words heterosexual and homosexual were first coined in 1869 by Karl-Maria Kertbeny was inspired by his friends’ suicide to advocate against the common understanding of “natural law” arguing “that what consensual adults did in the privacy of their bedroom should be our of the purview of the law (pgs. 22-23)?”
2. While Horn does not address this where do you think the idea of natural law comes from in his 1869 German context? Where you raised with any sense of “natural law” and if so where did that come from? What did that look like? How do you feel about whatever you understood “natural law” to be, today?
3. (p.23-24) “There is no concept or understanding of homosexuality as an orientation when these texts were written and later included in the Biblical canon. We find no Hebrew or Greek words in the Bible to convey the concept of homosexuality as an innate, unchangeable aspect of the human condition.”
Horn asks on page 24, in reference to the above quote: “If there is no understanding of homosexuality, we must ask ourselves, how is it possible that the writers were speaking of homosexuality as we understand it today?” What do you think?
4. The King James Bible, pub. In 1611, (often a standard text for conservative Christians), does not have the word homosexual in it. Horn reveals that the word homosexual was not translated into English (from German) until the 1940’s and did not appear in an English version of the bible until 1946 (p.24).” Horn points out that the word homosexual has been in the bible for less than 100 years. What are your thoughts on this timeline and how you understand scripture? Are you surprised? Do you think this is important to know?
5. He asks: “What did the Bible say before that? What changed? Who decided on the change? What biases were at play (p. 24)?” These are the questions we will look at in the rest of the study. How do you feel about this?
6. The Scofield Bible is the first English translation to use the word homosexual. Many Christians who are fundamentalists or literalists, (see those definitions in our 1 session notes on chaps 1-4), consider this the standard for biblical interpretation. They believe that their version is the right version and everyone else is wrong.
Horn states at the end of the 5th chap: “…it is very important to note that there are over 200 translations in over 6 languages. Each translation is different from the last. Each translation adds or subtracts something. Each translation uses language differently and explains concepts differently. Most important, the people who write each translation bring their own biases, perspectives and interpretations to the original texts. Stated simply, every time you see the word “homosexual” in the Bible, it is a mistranslation!”
Do you agree at this point in our study? Does this make sense to you? If so, state why in your own words. If not, state why in your own words?
B. Chapter 6: What Did Jesus Say?
1. (p. 29) “Simply stated Jesus said absolutely NOTHING about the subject of homosexuality or same gender intimacy as we understand it today.” Does this surprise you? If so, how? What have you believed up until now?
Finally, does the fact Jesus never addressed the issue make a a difference in how you understand homosexuality, (here used as a broad term for LGBTQIA+ and gender nonconforming folk), and the bible?
2. (p. 27) Horn asks: “…if the topic of same sex relations was not important enough for Jesus to address, why then is it so important for Christians today? What causes people who identify with Christianity to take such a harsh position against same-gender-loving people when Jesus, the Word made flesh (John 1:14) gives no directive to do so? What are your answers to these questions?
3. Clobber passage: Matthew 19:3-5. Some cite this passage to say that the male/ female binary is the norm as endorsed here by Jesus. If you read on, Matthew 19:10-12, begs us to look at the context inspired by Jesus’ use of the word eunuch.
Considering Horn’s discussion which includes an interpretation of Acts 8:26-40, Deuteronomy 23:1, & Acts 8:5-7, what surprised you? How do you feel about Horn’s interpretation on the importance of understanding the eunuch in order to understand gender, sexuality, and identity in the bible?
C. Chapter 7: What Are They?
1. (p. 34) “Remember, our goal is not to be combative in conversation or seek to “win” an argument, but to be ministers of reconciliation and do as much as we can to educate those we encounter.”
In our first session we talked about de-weaponizing scripture as an act of healing and how we must resist the temptation to use scripture as a weapon against those who have harmed us. How do you feel about this?
Do you think you can do it? What do you need to be able to let go of winning an argument and simply offer to educate and heal both sides of the conversation?
2. (p. 35) “Because these passages have been misinterpreted, taught incorrectly and otherwise wielded irresponsibly, a great deal of pain, fear and confusion have been a part of the lives of an untold number people. I believe that a tremendous healing and “deliverance” will come for many of you when you finally understand what these passages are really saying to us.”
I argue we must first be healed before we can go out and heal others. What do you need to experience the deliverance and healing Horn talks about in the quote above? What do you need so that you can go out and offer this healing to others? What would that look like?
D. Read chapter 8 in Horns book and next week we will talk about Sodom and Gomorrah. Likely the most popular and widely used clobber passage. Thank you for joining us in this study. Remember to keep up your journal. God bless!