Let's not misrepresent what the Bible says about gays


Monday, August 07, 2017

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Lord Bishop Howard Gregory of the Anglican Church is being criticised by many — even in his own Church. One point of contention seems to be that, having been elevated to the position of leader in his church, he had absolutely no right to continue thinking and having thoughts of his own.

I will address one of the issues mentioned by the bishop: The removal of the offence of buggery from the law. My concern has to do with two aspects related to this matter. They are the continued insistence of some people to take the Bible literally and the claim that — despite evidence to the contrary — homosexuality is still considered by many to be an act some people choose to do.

Should we take the Bible literally? Did Moses really point a stick in the direction of the Red Sea and it just parted? Did a plate with some fish and bammy just multiply miraculously to feed a large crowd? Did a corpse just jump up and resume its normal daily routine? I doubt it.

One word that is often referred to as having sexual connotations is the word “know”. The 943 times it appears in the Old Testament, it is reference to God, people, good, evil, places, the law among other things. Yet, in Genesis 19: 5: “Bring them out that we may know them,” mischievious theologians suggest that it refers to homosexuality. A Sodomite in the Bible is simply a person who lived in Sodom. Lot had recently settled in the area. He had visitors. The residents wanted to know the purpose of their visit. If they were homosexuals, why would Lot offer his virgin daughters to them? The story has nothing to do with sexual orientation or God's position on homosexuality. This “Sodom” story is really intended to show the vulnerability of minorities when they are at the mercy of an ignorant, violent majority.

There are some who cite Leviticus 18: 22 and Leviticus 20: 13 to strengthen their 'evil of homosexuality' case. Here they are: Leviticus 18: 22 “You shall not lie with a male as those who lie with a female; it is an abomination. Leviticus 20: 13 “If a man lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination and shall surely be put to death.” The reference here is not to homosexuals but to heterosexuals engaged in a baal fertility ritual to guarantee healthy crops and animals. In Leviticus, “abomination” refers to anything that was not religiously 'clean'.

Where is the slightest suggestion of homosexuality? And what if these commands were to be taken literally 2,000 years ago? Should they be applied laterally today? Are things the same? Because the “homosexual” assumptions are based on no evidence at all in the Bible. As a matter of fact, the first time the word appeared in religious literature was in 1946.

But what has science got to say on the subject? In 1896, Magnus Hirschfeld, MD, founder of the Institute for Sexual Sciences, wrote the following in his book Sappho and Socrates. “In the embryonic state people are homosexual but, in the course of their natural development, most lose their desire for members of the same sex. These people are the heterosexuals, who love members of the opposite sex. Another category consists of those individuals whose sexual organs develop normally, but in whom the desire for same-sex individuals in the feeling centre fails to recede. The results are men who love men and women who love women.”

A century later, Richard Pillard, MD, professor of psychiatry at Boston School of Medicine, wrote: “A problem for those who favour a genetic basis for sexual orientation is why, from an evolutionary point of view, gay attractions should exist at all. My suggestion is that both orientations — heterosexual and homosexual — are genetically programmed, that both appeared during the evolutionary history of our species and therefore may exist at least in the rudimentary form in our close primate relatives.”

There are some who say homosexuality is an illness. Truth be told, it was listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the book which defines psychiatric disorders — until 1973. The American Psychological Association (APA) now states: “Homosexuality is not a mental disorder, and the APA opposes all portrayals of lesbian, gay and bisexual people as mentally ill and in need of treatment due to their sexual orientation.”

And yet some charlatans persisted — offering something called Gay Conversion Therapy. They made good money, although there was no evidence that this 'therapy' worked. Two guys formed Exodus International and offered a major conversion programme. They later admitted that the programme was “…ineffective; not one person was healed…” Things did not work out so badly for them, however. The last I heard, while they were 'treating' others, they fell in love and married.

There are people offering this 'therapy' today in this country — hush, hush, of course. They need to understand that therapy attempting to change a person's sexual orientation could cause depression and suicidal tendencies among 'patients'.

Removing the buggery law does not expose vulnerable people to abuse. There are other laws that provide the requisite protections. What it does is prevent the exceptionally curious among us from peeping into people's bedrooms. Whatever two consenting adults choose to do, or derive mutual satisfaction from, and no one gets hurt in the process should be nobody's business but their own. Religious mischief-makers have been with us from the beginning of time.

Any charge against gays and lesbians based on the life and teachings of Jesus has to be dismissed for lack of evidence.

Glenn Tucker is an educator and a sociologist. Send comments to the Observer or




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