Category Archives: Bible

Hot Topic : The Use of the Word Homosexual in the Bible

As you might imagine, I’ve been receiving many emails, messages and questions asking how I interpret the verses in scripture that condemn homosexuality.

Rather than speak from my point of view, I would like to provide readers with the same information I read and allow them to come to their own conclusions.

 I believe that we are all responsible for our own theology and faith –and it would be a great disservice to only know one way of thinking before weighing the evidence.

Our Spirit Now addresses what are widely known as “the clobber passages” among LGBTQ Christians. These are the verses in scripture that are translated in English containing the word homosexual or homosexuality.

“Where in the Bible you might find the word homosexual used incorrectly:
  • The Hebrew word kedah means temple prostitute and is sometimes inaccurately translated at sodomite or homosexual.
  • In 1 Corinthians, sodomite or homosexual are sometimes used, but they are incorrect translations of the Greek malakos which means something closer to effeminate or the Greek practice of pederastywhich is older men having sex with boys and is not consensual gay sex between peers.
  • 1 Corinthians also refers in Greek to arsenokaitai, which appears nowhere else in the Bible or in Greek writings about homoerotic sexuality, but probably means male prostitute.
  • Jude 7 sometimes refers to homosexual flesh that the Sodomites pursued.  This is an inaccurate translation of hetera sarx which means, literally, strange flesh to describe the flesh of the angels who were sent by God to evaluate Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • In Timothy 1:9-10, translators sometimes use homosexual for the original Greek words, pornoi, arsenokoitai, and andrapodistai, meaning male prostitutesmales who hire male prostitutes or the slave dealers who procure them.”
Taken from www.ourspiritnow.org, Friday , June 3, 2016.

For me, one of the interesting things to consider was the lack of examples of same sex sex outside of prostitution, idolatry, sexual abuse of minors or slavery. It also came as a surprise to me that the word homosexual didn’t exist at the time of English translations. It was coined in 1869 by Dr. Karoly Benkert by combining the Greek term “homo” for same and the Latin “sexual”. It was after his studies in the field that translations started to have the word included. 

Equip.org states:
Theologian Mel White agrees that the Greek word arsenokoitai, used for “homosexual” in 1Corinthians 6:9, seems to refer to same-sex behavior. He argues that Greek scholars don’t know exactly what it means, however, and that this simple detail is a big part of this tragic debate.
He explains, “Some scholars believe Paul was coining a name to refer to customers of ‘the effeminate call boys.’ We might call them ‘dirty old men.’ Others translate the word as ‘sodomites,’ but never explain what that means.”
According to White, in 1958, a translator for the New Amplified Bible set historical precedent by translating this “mysterious” Greek word into English as the word “homosexuals,” even though no such word exists in either Greek or Hebrew. It was that translator, according to White, who “placed the word homosexual in the English-language Bible for the very first time.”
White blames this bad translation for the inability of many NT scholars today to make the proper, culturally relevant application of this passage in 1Corinthians. He adds, “In the past, people used Paul’s writings to oppress women and limit their role in the home, in church, and in society. Now we have to ask ourselves, ‘Is it happening again? Is a word in Greek that has no clear definition being used to reflect society’s prejudice and condemn God’s gay children?’”

Mel White is also a Christian minister and filmmaker, who describes how he reconciles his homosexuality with his Christian faith in his book Stranger at the Gate: To Be Gay and Christian in America (New York: Plume Books, 1994).

The reason I like this particular article is it shows the translation process and before concluding mentions that Paul was likely referring to Leviticus when speaking to the Corinthians. They also note that “nothing in 1Corinthians, or for that matter in any other biblical writing, speaks directly of the biological or psychological condition of homosexuality or homosexual ‘orientation’ as this is understood today and as it concerns believing Christian gay persons intent on worshipping and serving God.” (Theologian John H. Elliott, Professor Emeritus of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco.)
While Equip is not in favour of LGBTQ Christians, its researchers do understand where the argument is coming from. It’s important to note that scholars are debating these issues trying to reconcile science, psychology, culture, history and theology while millions of people are navigating the tense waters in the meantime. 
gaychurch.org does a great job of presenting the inclusive argument. By focussing on the main passages Rev. Justin Cannon gives a detailed reasoning for his stance. I recommend anyone who wishes to seriously understand what inclusive affirming churches believe to read the Rev’s research. 
I think it’s unfair to assume that because someone professes Jesus and identifies as LGBTQ, they would automatically know all these arguments. I didn’t know about the deity of Christ when I received him as saviour and Lord, I didn’t know about creation, or the flood, or baptism or the Holy Spirit. All of these things I needed to study. Think carefully before engaging in debate with one another, give space and time for reflection and above all don’t attack someone with your point of view (or mine for that matter) and say you’re doing it in love. Love is patient, love is kind, it is not self seeking, it keeps no records of wrongs ect. (1 Corinthians 13).

Pushing People Out: A Closet Introvert

I’ve learned a lot about the closet I’ve spent my life in for the past 26-ish years. I always thought of myself as an extrovert. I have always been overtly social, the life of the party, down for anything with loads of people–until I owned who I am.

Being overtly outgoing enabled me to keep people at a distance. As long as everyone was having fun and enjoying each other, no one would ask me about me. I used to blame my family history, my rough teen years and my failed life choices as the reason for keeping others at a distance. I was completely unhappy and did an Oscar worthy performance at portraying otherwise.

The thing I was really hiding is that I was a liar. Yesterday sitting on the couch I confessed to my roommate, “I want to go out somewhere and then when I’m out, I just want to be at home on the couch.” She said it was the most introverted thing she’d ever heard me say. Funny story though, I’ve been telling this to my heart for years. I wanted to be accepted so badly that I would spend extraordinary amounts of effort projecting the person I knew people loved. They told me so all the time.

Unfortunately, this cause all the homophobia, hatred and guilt to be turned inward. Their support of who I was pretending to be, to me, was evidence that no one would support who I really am. We lie to ourselves out of fear and blame others for those lies. I’ve learned in the past few months who always saw me for me–those people are still my biggest champions and I love them greatly.

There’s a few people who saw what I was projecting or what they wanted to see…or hoped for me to be.  In coming out publicly as Bisexual (and a Christian), there is an awkward space where no one knows what to say–so they say nothing. There’s been a lot of radio silence. I don’t want to have conversations about my sexuality that come from a place of judgement and concern, but I do want to have conversations.

Tomorrow I have the honour of talking with a local pastor about how LGBTQ+ Christians are falling through the cracks. This leader of the faith wants to know how the church can support us as we come out so that we don’t feel the need to leave the church. I don’t know that there is a cut and dry answer for this because it all comes down to those looks and comments we get–and the ones we don’t. The silence is deafening sometimes. I am still the Cheryl I was two months ago, I still like comic book movies, Bible studies, lattes and beach fires. I still love dinner parties, live music and sarcastic humour. I still love my friends–for some reason announcing my own elephant has produced an even bigger one that causes discomfort in others.

 There’s also this glorious thing where I am comfortable with myself, with being alone, with being with others who love and support me and with being a work in progress. Though my friend circle seems to have tightened recently as others take a step back for their own personal comfort, I am finding a peace in my heart that wasn’t there before.

It’s going to take a while to clean up the damage done by years of pretending, but I’m ready for it. Freedom is a wonderful thing!

Untitled Poem, written in church

In the shadow of the cross
are the broken and lost
the weeping and weary they come.

To the place where the Son
did what must be done
so they could forever know love.

You are the one laid on His heart
while hanging on that tree
He cried out to His Father in pain

Thinking of you the King of the Jews
looked up to the Heavens and sighed
He breathed His last breath and He died.

The enemy rejoiced
at the death of the Christ
he regaled his defeat with the grave

Jesus had promised He would return
from the tomb did He rise
to ransom they that were slaves

Listen you lost, you broken, you weary
that’s where your story starts
from before your very beginning
you were written on the Father’s heart.

Come out of the shadow
out of the darkness
come claim what’s been restored.

The debt has been paid
you’ve been set free
come here, take it, it’s yours.

Rejoice my brother, my sister, my friend
you’re now the child of the King
lift up your head, your heart and your voice

Let the praises ring!

Christmas Cheer

This is a year of firsts. The first Christmas I celebrate without plenty of children around. The first Christmas I am too far from home to surprise my family with either gifts or my presence. The first Christmas completely on my own.

I feel great! Like many single adults living far from home, I often find this time of year very lonely. God has blessed me with a change of perspective…maybe it’s just because 30 is the next birthday on the calendar, but I’d like to think it’s Jesus shaping my heart…in any case this year I am surrounded by love. Generous people are everywhere if we are willing to swallow our pride and admit we are alone. Letting others into my life gave me plenty of invitations for Christmas Day. I went from feeling like a burden or forgotten to having the privilege of choosing which events to attend!

I’m so excited to spend this time remembering Jesus with people who share His love and they do so in practical ways. Lonely people don’t really want a gift, though we appreciate them. What we really want is time. People who care to spend time with us during a season of togetherness. Who has God placed in your life that could use a little togetherness this year?

Mental Illness: Blessing or a Curse?

We’ve all been there. Whether you believe in Jesus Christ, karma, or positive energy–we’ve all had those moments. The moments where we just can’t seem to get out of a rut. We do all the right things, we have supportive friends, we make positive changes, we recognize our inability to do life on our own and yet, things are still overwhelmingly out of our control.

I’ve talked about it a bit before, but today I want to share authentically without advice, without pretence and without any false notion that I’ve got all the answers. I have mental illness. I struggle daily with debilitating depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Any one of these on their own is hard to handle, but being blessed with the trifecta is a living nightmare.

There are days I feel like a conquerer. I say “take that” to my illness’s face as I do something that scares me or is difficult.  Other days, like this week (and today), I feel like the blankets on my bed are made of space titanium and I am unable to move them or my limbs to be motivated. Strangely enough, I have a lot to be thankful for. Depression and Anxiety have little to do with our haves and have nots—it’s deeply connected to how we view reality.

For example, I’ve been praying for healing for years. Ever since I first began to know Jesus and follow Him, I’ve asked to have this burden lifted from my life. I’ve experienced some great triumphs and I’ve also had deep, dark, and desperate lows. I know that God can heal me, and that He wants His children to live joy filled lives that trust in Him completely. So, knowing the Bible fairly well, I cling to those promises that the answer to my healing prayer isn’t “no” but “not just yet”.

This is great, until like today, I pray for a friend with their own health issues and see immediate answer to prayer–not just an answer, but the one they’re longing for. It is here that my OCD and Anxiety kicks into over drive. I obsess over why my prayer didn’t work. Did I not have enough faith? No, that can’t be it–I prayed for my friend in faith and they were healed. Does God not want to heal me of this? No , that can’t be it His word speaks differently. Am I missing some lesson that He’s trying to teach me? And I go on and on for days.

There is no answer. There I said it. God alone knows why, when and how He chooses to bless His children. The change in perspective for me comes in how I view my illness. Yes, it is exhausting. Yes, it is a battle. Yes, it effects my ability to lead a functional life at times. BUT…and this is a big one…it also allows me to see God show up in ways that I would miss entirely if I were healthy. I get to see Him take care of me when I cannot. I get to experience His love from strangers and friends, most of whom do not know what I am going through. I get to feel His comfort when I am feeling all alone in a group of friends. He is my source, the strength when I have none, the light in the darkness and the reason I keep breathing.

You can do it too. He’s got you.