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Religion vs. Sexual Orientation - Lecture By Dr. Robert Wintemute
Dr. Robert Wintemute









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Case For Legal Recognition

2. Mistranslation

Perhaps the most popular translation of the Bible is the King James version, named for a 17th century British king who was himself notorious for his homosexual affairs. In translating the ancient Greek term “arsenokoitai” the translators used “sodomite”. They thereby reinforced the misconstrued Sodom story and introduced their own views about the sinful nature of those involved in homosexual acts. Boswell and other scholars have convincingly argued that this term refers to male prostitutes, particularly those pagans who were ritual temple prostitutes[8]. Thus, these references condemn prostitution, but more particularly a type of prostitution associated with the worship of idols. The association of homosexual acts with pagan cultures and idol worship is a recurrent theme in the Bible. This context was not apparent to the King James translators, who used a term that they and others of their day would understand, but which is misleading. Of course, they did not use the term “homosexual”, because both the word and the concept were entirely unknown to them.

3. Christianity vs. Judaism

The Sodom story is in the part of the Bible that Christians refer to as the Old Testament. The Old Testament is a respected foundation for Christian beliefs, but its teachings are never absolute authorities for Christians. The early Christian Church struggled with the question of whether Christianity was a Jewish sect, or whether the uncircumcised Gentiles would also be welcome in what was really an entirely new religion. The Pauline view of a universal church prevailed, and Christians were said to not be bound by Jewish laws and traditions, such as circumcision and keeping kosher. This is important because one of the most frequently invoked passages against homosexuality in the Bible is found in Leviticus, with its ringing language of “abomination”[9]. This is the Holiness Code, that also contains the prohibitions on eating pork and wearing fabrics made of two different fibers. While these laws are faithfully observed by Orthodox Jews, they are not binding on Christians. Since Christians regularly engage in the other “abominations” identified in Leviticus, it is truly disingenuous to cite this passage as authority for Christian condemnation of homosexual acts. In fact, Jesus Christ said nothing about homosexuality at all. However, he did say a great deal about religious hypocrisy, and urged his followers to love the most marginalized members of their society rather than engage in public displays of pious compliance with Jewish law.

[8] Boswell, supra note 5, Christianity at 98-99.

[9] 20:13, King James Version.

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