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More on Homosexuality in the Bible (Part 1)

3/16/2007 - 5:45 AM PST

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Interview With Father Jean-Baptiste Edart

ROME, MARCH 16, 2007 (Zenit) - The Bible clearly teaches that homosexual practices are wrong, says an exegete from the John Paul II Institute in Rome.

Father Jean-Baptiste Edart, is co-author of "Clarifications sur l'Homosexualité dans la Bible" (Clarifications on Homosexuality in the Bible), published by Editions du Cerf.

We interviewed the authors in February. In this follow-up interview, Father Edart of the Emmanuel Community, discusses more in-depth the biblical teachings on homosexuality.

Part 2 of this interview will appear Sunday.

Q: What are the references to homosexuality in the Bible?

Father Edart: This subject is given very little coverage in the Bible. This is linked to the absence of the visibility of this phenomenon, and that is a logical consequence of the prohibition of this behavior.

The biblical texts which address the question of homosexuality directly or indirectly are:

In the Old Testament

Genesis 19:7-8: "I beg you, my brothers, not to do this wicked thing. I have two daughters who have never had intercourse with men. Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you please. But don't do anything to these men."

Judges 19:23-24: "No, my brothers; do not be so wicked. Since this man is my guest, do not commit this crime. Rather let me bring out my maiden daughter or his concubine. Ravish them, or do whatever you want with them; but against the man you must not commit this wanton crime."

Leviticus 18:22: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such a thing is an abomination."

In the New Testament

1 Corinthians 6:9: "Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor homosexuals nor sodomites ... will inherit the kingdom of God."

1 Timothy 1:10: "... law is meant not for a righteous person but for the lawless and unruly ... the unchaste, practicing homosexuals, kidnapers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is opposed to sound teaching."

Romans 1:26-27: "Therefore, God handed them over to degrading passions. Their females exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the males likewise gave up natural relations with females and burned with lust for one another. Males did shameful things with males and thus received in their own persons the due penalty for their perversity."

Q: You quoted 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10. How should these texts be understood?

Father Edart: These two texts contain a list of vices presented as unacceptable for access to the kingdom of God.

In 1 Corinthians, two Greek words make reference to homosexuality: "malakos," translated here as "homosexuals," and "arsenokoites," translated as "sodomites."

These terms are very rare: "Malakos" appears only here in St. Paul, as for "arsenokoites," it is the first recurrence in the whole of Greek literature.

"Malakos" means, literally, "gentle, silky, delicate." In a homosexual relationship, it designates the passive partner, but it can also refer to homosexual prostitutes or very effeminate men.

The study of the meaning of "arsenokoites," and the clearly sexual context of the list of prohibitions invalidate these last two marginal interpretations.

"Arsenokoites" means literally "to lie with a man." Formed by the association of two words present in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, it quite probably appeared in the Judeo-Hellenistic context. Rabbis used the Hebrew expression "lie with a man," taken from the Hebrew text of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, to express the homosexual relationship.

They did not limit it to pederasty. All these elements seem sufficient to us to affirm that the most plausible theory is that this term refers to men having the active role in relations of a homosexual nature. The meaning of "arsenokoites" allows one to limit the meaning of "malakos" to the passive partner in a homosexual relationship.

Homosexual acts, therefore, are considered extremely grave, directly offending the divine Law. This teaching is perfectly consistent with Judaism of that time.

No distinction is related to a question of sexual orientation, or of circumstances of the act, nor is it indicated. It is the act itself which is condemned.

Q: And Romans 1:18-32?

Father Edart: St. Paul presents acts of a homosexual nature in men as well as women as a consequence of God's wrath. Research was substantiated around the precise nature of this homosexuality and of the interpretation which that passage should be ...

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