A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON HOMOSEXUALITY: IMPLICATION TO THE CURRENT DEBATE

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Introduction
One of the most well-organized and well-funded movements in the United States is the homosexual movement. The effectiveness can be measured by the impact. Most North Americans consider the homosexual lifestyle an alternative lifestyle. Major denominations such as The United Methodist Church and Episcopalian Church have accepted homosexual behavior as sanctioned by scripture. The “don’t ask don’t tell” policy in the armed forces has been repealed, and currently four states have legalized homosexual marriage. Christianity Today sheds light into a schism within the Presbyterian Church USA due to the homosexual issue.[1] The battle lines have been drawn, and the best hope for the world lies within the wall of the church. As such, the church must not linger in responding to the current crisis. The church must critically engage homosexual theology and learn to respond in a Biblical manner. The aim of this paper is to move the debate toward these two goals.

The Battleground Verses
Genesis 19:1-29
Homosexual theology theorizes the Genesis 19 story of Sodom and Gomorrah has no connection to homosexuality. Homosexual theologians have proposed three different interpretations of Genesis 19:1-29. The first, and perhaps the most meaningful, argument from a Biblical perspective is that the rest of scripture does not identify the sin of Sodom as homosexuality. When cross-referencing how other Biblical writers deal with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, it gives the sense other Biblical writers understood the sinfulness of Sodom and Gomorrah as being a general lack of moral and ethical behavior; more specifically, injustices such as failure to care for the poor and needy, gluttony, and pride.[2]When Jesus refers to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, he seems to address the lack of hospitality not homosexuality.[3]
The strongest verses used by homosexual theologians to identify the sin of Sodom as other than homosexuality are found in Ezekiel 16:48-49.

As I live, declares the Lord GOD, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.[4]

According to Daniel Helminiak, in the case of Leviticus 19 the meaning of the text is quite obvious if cross-referenced to other portions of scripture. The book of Ezekiel identifies the sin of Sodom as a refusal to take in needy travelers.
A second interpretation is drawn from the use of the word ידע (to know ). They argue the word is used over 900 times in the Old Testament, and only 15 times does the word imply sexual connotation.[5]Therefore, it is very unlikely the request by the citizens of Sodom had anything to do with sexual intercourse. In this interpretation, it is suggested that the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah wanted to interrogate the angels to see if they were spies. They suggest this interrogation may include some form of torture, thus adding to their iniquity.
The third interpretation is that the sin of Sodom was a desire for gang-rape and violence. These men may not even be homosexual since Lot offered his own daughters as replacement. In essence, their sin was rape not homosexuality. These verses do not prohibit a loving and monogamous homosexual relationship between two consenting adults. Some may add that the event was aggravated by the fact that these guests were angels.[6]

Biblical Response
The liberal theologians are correct when they assess that the sin of Sodom was a lack of hospitality; however, this is only part of the issue at hand. As it is often the case, sinful acts never happen in a vacuum, for they are usually accompanied by a host of other sinful acts. The fact that other Biblical writers, and Jesus, have highlighted the pride, gluttony, and lack of hospitality does not divert the verse from the sexual implications. Moreover, the liberal theologians seem selective in their choice of verses. Ezekiel 16:48-49 does not seem to mention homosexuality, yet verses 47 and 50 are ignored by liberal theologians. The larger context states:

Not only did you walk in their ways and do according to their abominations [emphasis mine]; within a very little time you were more corrupt than they in all your ways. As I live, declares the Lord God, your sister Sodom and her daughters have not done as you and your daughters have done. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination[emphasis mine] before me. So I removed them, when I saw it.

The key word in the larger context is the word abomination. This is a translation of the Hebrew word תּוֹעֵבָה which is used in Leviticus to describe the sin of homosexuality.
When it comes to the use of the word  ידע liberal theologians are correct in that this word is mostly translated as knowledge. However, they fail to recognize that out of the ten times it is used to denote sexual intercourse, seven of them are in the book of Genesis. Skilled exegetes do not interpret verses based on statistical analysis, but on the immediate context. Another factor that must be taken into account regarding the use of the word  ידע in this passage is Judges 19:1-30. The author of Judges seems to purposely make parallels between his narrative and the narrative of Sodom and Gomorrah. This close connection between the two narratives helps identify what the Jewish community believed regarding the Sodom and Gomorrah narrative. It would be difficult to make a case that the use of the word ידע in this parallel narrative has no reference to sexual intercourse.
Making a case that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was a desire for rape and violence becomes two issues mutually exclusive of one another to liberal theologians. In essence, they seem to believe that homosexual acts and rape and violence cannot occur at the same time. What they fail to recognize is for these men to rape the male visitors homosexual tendencies have to be implied. Heterosexuals do not generally have an erection for other heterosexuals; a basic requirement for rape. Again, one must emphasize that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were more than just homosexuality, it was a multiplicity of sins which came together incurring God’s wrath. 

Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13
There are two lines of argument when it comes to interpreting the Leviticus passages on homosexuality. Even though they are closely related there is enough distinction to deal with each argument individually. The first argument is based on the application of Levitical laws to modern Christianity. During the debate in California over proposition eight, homosexual advocates broadcast several ads chiding Christians for their hypocrisy and selectiveness when it comes to Levitical laws. They accomplished this by equating the prohibitions of homosexual acts and prohibitions on eating pork and shrimp. Jack Rogers makes a case that these prohibitions were culturally conditioned, not applicable to Christians redeemed under the new covenant.[7]
The second argument states that the prohibitions against homosexuality in the Levitical laws were given to their connection to idolatry and cult prostitution.[8] This argument might add the idea that prohibition may have been given more directly to heterosexual men who engage in homosexual acts with other heterosexual men. In other words, the prohibition is not against the homosexual men, but heterosexual men who engage in homosexual acts. Those who propose this view are adamant that homosexual men were not prohibited in acting upon their own nature.[9]

Biblical Response
When dealing with Levitical laws, one must not make a blanket statement that all Levitical laws are obsolete and do not affect believers today. If that is the case, then why is the book of Leviticus still in the canon today? Liberal theologians fail to distinguish between ceremonial laws, which had a cultural element to them, and moral laws, which have been carried on and will remain truth to the end of times. It is helpful to notice that the ceremonial laws had the consequence of being declared unclean while the moral laws were often punishable by death. A responsible theologian will recognize the context of these commands, and realize that alongside the prohibition of homosexuality the prohibition of adultery, rape, bestiality and incest exists. Making a case that homosexuality does not apply today because it was part of the Levitical laws also provides a similar line of reasoning for all the other sexual perversions.[10]
When liberal theologians make the case that the condemnation for homosexual acts was for heterosexuals and not for those with homosexual tendencies, they are guilty of the special pleading fallacy. Special pleading fallacy is the addition of favorable details to support one’s argument. Nowhere in the Biblical text is special consideration given based on sexual orientation. In fact, the Bible consistently condemns homosexual acts and makes no mention of orientation. The Hebrew people had no concept of sexual orientation as articulated today.[11]

Genesis 9:18-27
The narrative depicted in Genesis 9 is important to this topic. A survey might find some believe the story of Ham peekingat his father’s naked body led to his own curse. At least this is how some remember it. However, a closer reading of the narrative reveals the Sunday school version is a diluted and inaccurate version of the Biblical text. The narrative has bewildered biblical scholars. Several issues come to light with this pericope. It is Ham’s son Canaan who receives the curse, the biblical text implies Ham was inside the tent, and the Hebrew text gives indication of a more serious crime.
Many commentators jump to the conclusion that Ham’s crime was, at minimum, culturally offensive, and at most voyeurism. However, as Wold concludes, “No narrative or legal source—in either the Bible or the ancient Near East—gives evidence that seeing a naked person was offensive or criminal.”[12]  Further difficulties arise when it is recognized that according to the text Ham was inside the tent—he had to go outside to tell his brother—thus Ham’s act was beyond just peeking.[13] The Septuagint is more explicit by using the word ἐξελθὼν, rendering the text as “went out and told.” Readers must ask the question “What was Ham doing inside the tent in the first place?” Further evidence that the crime was beyond voyeurism is found in verse 24, “When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done [emphasis mine] to him.” The use of the verb hDc¶Do (ʿāśâ) is unexpected if the crime was nothing more than voyeurism.
The severity of Canaan’s punishment for his father’s crime should also be considered. The severity is highlighted by the knowledge that in the Ancient Near East it is customary for the penalty to befall the person who commits a crime. Canaan was cursed into a life of servitude, and a punishment of this magnitude requires a crime that befits it. Voyeurism does not seem to warrant such an extreme penalty.
 Upon arriving at the conclusion that the crime was beyond voyeurism, in light of the Hebrew text the most likely crime was homosexual rape. The key to this exegesis is found in verse 21b to 22a, rendered as: “[Noah] became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father…” The Hebrew word l™A…gVtˆ¥yÅw is a hithpael imperfect which; “The passive uses of the Hithpaelmay express either (a) the notion that the subject is transformed into a state by an unexpressed agent or (b) the notion that the subject transforms itself into such a state.”[14]Most biblical translations choose option b. Nonetheless, further study of the context makes a compelling case for option (a). That is, Noah did not uncover himself, but rather he was uncovered. A better translation would be, he became drunk and was uncovered.
At this junction, the exegete should begin the task of trying to discover who uncovered Noah. The Hebrew text does not waste any time in making this evident. In the English translation, verse 22a begins with, “and Ham the father of Canaan,” this is not the case in the original language. In fact, the Hebrew begins with √rGÅ¥yÅw  (and he saw), which actually connects it with the previous verse; in this verse, the waw+imperfect (or wayyqtl) functions as a waw relative of succession. According to IBHS, “Situations described with wayyqtl are mostly temporally or logically succeeding.”[15] This is not an indication that the English translation is being deceitful, for a literal translation would seem awkward to an English audience. English is a language requiring specific word order, which often is not parallel to the Hebrew word order. The verse divisions, which came at a later time and are not original to the text, create further complications. The artificial division placed in this text has robbed it of its intent. When read together, it becomes clear Ham is the antecedent for both the “uncovering” and the “seeing.” It is not unusual in Hebrew to have the antecedent follow a compound predicate.
It may be said that even with these adjustments the text does not describe a homosexual act. At first glance it does not, but further study of Hebrew euphemisms shed light on the topic. The idea of uncovering and/or seeing the nakedness of someone is often used in scripture in reference to sexual acts. Leviticus uses the phrase to denote incest in chapter 18 verses 6-18 and chapter 20 verses 11 and 17-21. It is used in other passages of scripture in connection with prostitution, incest, and rape (Ezekiel. 16:36; 22:10; 23:18; Isaiah. 47:3; Ezekiel. 16:37; 23:10; 23:29). In other instances, seeing the nakedness of someone entails an opportunity for rape, literally or metaphorically (Lamentations. 1:8-10, Habakkuk. 2:15; Nahum. 3:5). It is quite evident that in the scriptural use of this phrase, whether literal or metaphorical (such as in the case of Jerusalem), the image being conveyed is not voyeurism, but illicit sexual acts such as rape, incest, and adultery.
This information should be enough to make a case that Ham raped his father while he was in a drunken stupor. Further proof can be found by focusing on to the response of Ham’s brothers, and the curse on Canaan. Shem and Japheth’s chose to enter the tent and not see their father’s nakedness, both in the sense of sexual intercourse and in the literal sense. The Hebrew writer purposefully makes a stark contrast between these deeds. Shem and Japheth would not dare see their father’s nakedness. Their noble and pious action is at the opposite extreme of Ham’s heinous deed.
In light of what has been discovered from the original text, the fact that Ham’s son is cursed is more logical. Since Ham used his own seed to bring shame and dishonor upon his father, it is his seed which is cursed; the punishment fits the crime. The timing of this writing  must be kept in mind. The people of Israel are about to embark on the conquest of the land occupied by Canaanites. The story has an etiological function alongside other stories, which serve as evidence against the Canaanites. In essence, the Canaanites have not changed their inheritance; they remained just as their father Ham, deserving of God’s wrath and punishment.
Romans 1:24-27
Engaging the New Testament perspective on homosexuality, Romans 1: 24-27 is perhaps the most hotly debated text. This passage presents difficulty for homosexual theologians, and a myriad of interpretations are proposed by liberal theologians. Some interpretations are simple attempts to explain away the texts, while others are thoughtful academics endeavors. This section will focus on those endeavors which are the most popularly accepted liberal interpretations.
There are three well-developed liberal perspectives worthy of engaging in discussion. John Boswell proposed the first interpretation. He makes a case that Paul is condemning heterosexuals who are engaging in homosexual behavior. It is an argument based on the use of the word “natural/fu/sin ” in Romans 1. The second argument proposes Paul was expressing a cultural bias not applicable for all people at all times. The third and final argument among liberal scholars is that Paul is only condemning pederasty, not true homosexuals in the form of inversion. This last line of argument goes as far as making a case that Paul does not identify homosexuality as sin.

Biblical Response
John Boswell’s argument has become the most popularly accepted interpretation among liberal theologians. In his book Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality he writes,
On the other hand, it should be recognized that the point of the passage is not to stigmatize sexual behavior of any sort but to condemn the Gentiles for their general infidelity … The reference to homosexuality is simply a mundane analogy to this theological sin; it is patently not the crux of this argument …What is even more important, the persons Paul condemns are manifestly not homosexual: what he derogates are homosexual acts committed by apparently heterosexual persons. The whole point of Romans 1, in fact, is to stigmatize persons who have rejected their calling, gotten off the true path they were once on. It would completely undermine the thrust of the argument if the persons in question were not “naturally” inclined to the opposite sex in the same way they were “naturally” inclined to monotheism.[16]
There are several basic flaws in this line of argument. The most radical is the attempt to redefine the word natural/fu/sin outside of the context given by the passage. Beginning in verse 19, Paul expounds a series of stages faced by those who chose to continue in sin and not accept the truth revealed by God. Verses 19 and 20 make it clear God has revealed, in the creation of the world, His attributes and moral expectations. Paul makes it clear mankind is without excuse before natural revelation. In verse 21 Paul proposes that sinful humanity has chosen to foolishly exchange God for idols, which leads to God giving them over to their own self-destructive fates. Paul specifically mentions homosexual behavior as one of the fates God allows upon sinners. As renowned scholar Ben Witherington III states,
Vv. 26-27 are about as clear a condemnation of homosexual and lesbian behavior as exists in the NT. Paul speaks of actions, not inclinations, attitudes, or genetics … In Paul’s view homosexual behavior flows naturally from idolatry in that it is a rejection of the creation order that the Creator God set up in the first place.[17]
It is an obvious case of eisegesis  to assume that the behavior described in this text is not in reference to homosexuals simply because they chose to engage in homosexual acts. The underlying presumption is that a true homosexual would simply partake in this activity out of who they are, not as a choice. However, this assumption lacks any scientific evidence or theological support.
The second argument, that Paul was simply expressing Jewish cultural bias and it should not be used for modern Christians, becomes a double-edged sword for liberal theologians. Those who made that argument automatically agree the Jewish faith understood the Old Testament verses as condemning homosexuality. With that in mind, one must simply prove Paul did not view the law as useless and inapplicable to all people. As previously discussed, portions of the Levitical Law are still normative to all believers. Jewish prohibitions against bestiality, adultery, incest, and homosexuality were understood by the New Testament church as prescriptive. The context of this text reveals that Paul is speaking in universal terms. He speaks not of Jews alone, but of all created men who have chosen rebellion. Paul is not condemning just cultural Jews, but Gentiles and beyond who practice ritual or secular homosexuality.
The final interpretation was proposed by Robin Scroggs, who claimed that since the most dominant form of same sex relationship in the Greco-Roman was pederasty, and it was often exploitative, Paul only had in mind this form of same sex relationship. The argument is that Paul never condemns homosexuality—those who have a natural inclination toward those of the same gender. This argument has already been partially answered in response to previous arguments. However, the premise of pederasty must be engaged. While it is true that pederasty was a commonplace same sex relation in the Roman Empire, it was not the only known form of same sex relationship. Paul, who was a well-educated man, surely had knowledge of all of them. Yet he never makes an exception for any other form. He makes a blanket statement with no qualifications. There is evidence of Paul making exceptions in some of his other teachings, such as divorce and meat sacrifice to idols. If Paul had any exceptions in mind, he would have mentioned them at some point. No exception is made, and the text describes not only male homosexuality but also lesbianism, ensuring that the text is understood as all encompassing.

1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1Timothy 1:10
The two vice lists written by Paul in Corinthians and Timothy fall under scrutiny by liberal theologians due to the inclusion of the words aÓrsenokoi÷taiß and malakoi«, which the New American Standard Bible translates as homosexual and effeminate. Liberal theologians attempt to redefine the lexical meaning of these words. In the case of malakoi«, Scroggs gives it the narrow definition of effeminate callboys.[19] Conversely, Dale Martin gives it a broader definition of effeminate. He goes further by making the point that since the passage condemns any feminine trait by males, it should be discarded as misogynistic.[20]In the case of aÓrsenokoi√tai, Scrogg defines it as the active partner of the callboy (malakoi«), and Martin argues that it refers to those who exploit other males by means of sex.[21] 
All of these definitions are attempts by liberal theologians to narrow the meaning of the word, or expand it to the point that it becomes inapplicable and unfit for modern day audiences. Scroggs’ definitions are somewhat accurate to a certain extent. For this reason, liberal theologians engage these two passages of scriptures together. However, they should be separated and dealt with individually.
In the case of 1 Corinthians 6:9, the words malakoi« and aÓrsenokoi√tai are mutually dependent on one another, and they either rise or fall together. Indeed, malakoi« is a reference to “being passive in a same-sex relationship, an effeminate especially of catamites.”[22] In this context, aÓrsenokoi√tai is a reference to the active partner in the homosexual relationship. Scroggs is correct in his definitions and his understanding that this verse is a reference to pederasty relationship. However, to make a case that Paul does not oppose any other form of same sex relationship is an argument from silence. Other Biblical passages, such as Romans 1:26-27, provide clarification.
In the case of the list dictated by Paul in 1 Timothy 1:10, the word aÓrsenokoi√tai is without a qualifier such as malakoi«, and it should be translated as homosexual. The word is borrowed from the LXX version of the Old Testament’s Leviticus 20:13; 18:22. The word seems to be a fusion of the words a‡rsenoß (male) and koi÷thn (to have intercourse)[23]used in Leviticus 20:13, in reference to homosexual acts. Recognizing that Paul often used the LXX as a source in his letters, it is possible to conclude Paul is purposely making a connection to the prohibition on homosexuality in Leviticus 20:13.  

Cultural Redemption Perspective
Homosexual theologians propose that the same redemptive process applied to the place of women in our culture and the abolition of slavery can be applied to the place of homosexuals. They add that the church has learned from its mistakes and accepted the ultimate ethics towards laborers and women, but refuse to apply the same redemptive process to homosexuality. Indeed, for liberal theologians homosexuality is the last civil rights movement. The few churches which have adopted this redemptive process to homosexuality have come to the conclusion that homosexuality is not a sin, but a gift from God.[24]
The cultural redemptive movement is one of the most common and well developed arguments for homosexuality. The idea is to look at how scripture deals with cultural issues such as the place of women and slavery, and how they progressively redeemed the culture from these social ills. This is done by taking the Biblical text and expanding it to its redemptive goal in our context. Using slavery as a case in point, one can demonstrate how scripture moves this issue from its inception in the original culture, through the biblical witness, and into the New Testament. In the original culture slavery was characterized by many abuses; a truth that the Israelites themselves experienced. With the introduction of the biblical text, slavery is regulated by providing better working conditions and fewer abuses. This influence necessarily leads to our current culture, where slavery is completely eliminated and the working conditions of a laborer are improved. When one takes all these elements—original culture, Bible, and current culture— the ultimate ethic expanded from scripture is the elimination of slavery, improvement of laborers working conditions, better wages, harmony, respect, and teamwork among all levels of an organization.[25]
When it comes to the issue of homosexuality, the same redemptive process cannot be applied; in fact, the reverse is true. William Webb, following the same process, recognized that the original culture was actually more accepting of homosexual activities prior to the biblical witness. The honest assessment of the biblical perspective of homosexuality arises at the conclusion that the Bible has a consistent negative view of homosexuality. In light of this, there is no evidence that the redemptive process should apply to homosexual activity.[26]
Biblical Outings
David & Jonathan
In support of the homosexual lifestyle, the homosexual community tends to address what it considers positive examples of homosexuality in scripture. The three often cited “homosexual couples” are David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and Daniel and Ashpenaz. Liberal theologians propose that based on the use of the word soul in 1 Samuel 18:1 David and Jonathan loved each other both physically and emotionally. They recognize that the Hebrew text use of the word נֶפֶשׁ is a reference not only to the spirit, but also the body; thus, the implication of this verse is a homosexual union akin to today’s gay partnership. Based on Samuel 18:2-4, David’s intimate relationship is demonstrated when he moved to Saul’s house to be with Jonathan. Later Jonathan stripped naked before David, a conclusion based on the idea that men in the ancient near east did not wear underwear.[27]
The argument continues by highlighting that the appropriate translation of Samuel 18:21 should be properly translated as today you are a son-in-law with two of my children. Counter to the tradition translation “Therefore Saul said to David a second time, “You shall now be my son-in-law. If there is any doubt left that this relationship is of a homosexual nature, liberal theologians quote 1 Samuel 20:41, where it notes that they kiss each other until David had an erection (based on the use of the word גדל).
Biblical Response
It is best to address each verse individually in response to the liberal theology. For the sake of space, only the many assumptions and misconception made by the Homosexual theology perspective will be addressed. The first issue brought to the forefront by those who hold to a liberal view is the use of the word נֶפֶשׁ. The word can be translated as soul or person, yet context is the best evidence for choice of translation. It is not always true that every time the word appears all its semantic range is implied. The expression made that the soul of Jonathan was bound with the soul of David is no more erotic than that described in Genesis 44:30-31, where Judah tells Joseph that Jacob’s (his father) soul is bound up with Benjamin’s soul.[28]
Most conservative theologians recognize that David moving into Saul’s house had nothing to do with being closer to Jonathan; in fact, it is more likely the move was a political decision made by Saul. When the text talks about Jonathan removing his outer garment it does not imply he was naked. While it is true ancient near eastern men did not wear underwear, it is well know that they wore many layers of robes. Therefore, it is conceivable that the removal of the outer garment will leave Jonathan wearing an inner garment.[29]
The Biblical description of David and Jonathan kissing each other cannot be filtered through a western lens; in fact, the practice of one male kissing another is still part of Middle Eastern culture. The use of the word גדל in this text has no sexual connotation to imply an erection. The semantic rage of this word has thirty-seven meanings, none of which has a sexual connotation. Moreover, according to Talmudic tradition, the penis is referred to as a small organ, and thus the assumption of an erection is unfounded.[30]
On a final note, the liberal theologians argument that 1 Samuel 18:21 implies Saul recognizes David as his son-in-law through Michal and Jonathan is also unfounded. Ancient Israel had no concept of homosexual marriage, nor did any surrounding culture. Saul was not excited about David’s friendship with Jonathan, and saw it as a threat to his throne. In light of this, the traditional translation is the most plausible.[31]

Ruth & Naomi
The homosexual relationship of Ruth and Naomi was highlighted in The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-sex Relationshipsby Jeff Miner and John Tyler Connoley. The authors’ state the relationship described in this verse is of a homosexual marriage covenant. The book sold millions of copies, and today many saints are being persuaded by this to be a more tolerant Christianity.
Miner and Connoley begin their exegesis with the question “Can two people of the same sex live in committed, loving relationship with the blessing of God?” The authors’ first premise begins with historical analysis of the life of a woman in the Ancient Near East. A woman in Israel had to rely on her father or her husband for sustenance; therefore, Naomi’s status as a widow was an assurance of poverty. They recognize that the command to take care of the widows and orphans stems from the fact that these were the most vulnerable members of society.[32]
The second premise is drawn from Ruth’s words in verse 17 “Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” Proponents of this view hold that this level of commitment can only be characterize as love. Ruth willingness to die alongside Naomi is the same level of commitment found in marriage. Some add that the author already hinted at this fact in verse 14 “Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung [emphasis mine] to her.”
The Hebrew word daveqah (דָּ֥בְקָה) translated as cling, cleave, stick to, and hold-fast in the English text, is the same root word used in Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast [emphasis mine] to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” A verse understood as part of the marriage covenant to which the author is making an allusion.[33] They may add that Naomi and Ruth were lovers, and Ruth’s marriage to Boaz was a matter of convenience, since the text never mentions that Ruth loved Boaz. Furthermore, the book closes with emphasis on Naomi and her grandchild Obed; leaving Boaz completely out of the picture

Biblical Response
The best way to understand the argument posed by liberal theologians is by outlining it into the premises proposed by this exegesis. In essence Miner and Connoley state:  (1) If Ruth had a radical love for Naomi, and (2) the passage uses language of a marriage covenant, then (3) Ruth and Naomi were homosexual lovers. As persuasive as it may seem, there are several fallacies in this line of argument. First, this argument is a non-sequitur; the conclusion does not follow its premise. As it is true of most non-sequiturs it is missing a third premise, which should rewrite the line of argument as: (1) If Ruth had a radical love for Naomi, and (2) the passage uses language of a marriage covenant, and (3) if radical love is indicative of sexual intercourse, then (3) Ruth and Naomi were homosexual lovers.
Only by having this premise will the conclusion follow, but the line of argument enters into a new problem. Two of the premises are false, and thus the conclusion is false. Premise one is true; Ruth demonstrated a radical love for Naomi by putting her life in danger of starvation, and perhaps even assault, when she could have chosen to be comfortable in her father’s house. However, premise two is false. The assumption is made that the word daveqah can only be a reference to marriage, and the book itself invalidates this assumption. The word appears three more times in the text, “Boaz asks Ruth to stay’ [emphasis mine] with his servant girls while gleaning during the harvest (2:8). Ruth tells Naomi that Boaz asked her to stay’ [emphasis mine] with his workers until the harvest was finished (2:21), and Ruth followed Boaz’s advice and stayed close [emphasis mine] to the other women until the harvesting was finished (2:23).”[34]Peter Ould states that the verses in the second chapter of Ruth “are clearly not invitations for Ruth to form covenant unions with either the workers or the other women.”[35]
The last premise (the added premise) is also false. The omission of this premise stems from the homosexual community’s attempts to define homosexuality as an emotional attachment between two people of the same gender, which they define as love. A homosexual is actually defined as, “relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex;”[36]that sexual attraction/lust ought not to be confused with love. One can love his or her own child in a radical manner to the point of death, yet this does not imply sexual attraction to one’s children; the mere though is deviant. Therefore, the premise is necessary in this line of argument, and the text gives no evidence for this premise.

Daniel and Ashpenaz
The argument on the supposed relationship between Daniel and Ashpenaz is based on Daniel 1:9 that reads,and God gave Daniel favor and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs [Ashpenaz].” Liberal theologian propose that The Hebrew phrase My¡ImSjårVlá…w dRs™RjVl, which is translated by the ESV as favor and compassion, describing the relationship between Daniel and Ashpena, is best translated as showed mercy and engaged in physical love. They argue that the most common translation of chesed (dRs™Rj) is “mercy”, and rachamim (My¡ImSjår) has multiple meanings: “mercy” and “physical love.” It is unreasonable that the original Hebrew would read that Ashpenaz “showed mercy and mercy.” A more reasonable translation would be Ashpenaz “showed mercy and engaged in physical love” with Daniel[37]
Furthermore, they propose that the lack of a romantic interest or sexual partner of Daniel elsewhere in the Bible lends credibility to this interpretation. They also add the plural form of MAjår in My¡ImSjår for emphasis, and thus it gives it more importance in the text. Liberal theologians believe that the translators who are unwilling to accept a prophet of God as homosexual have corrupted the text by opting for innocuous terms.

Biblical Response
There are several issues with this perspective making it the weakest case for homosexual outing in the Bible. While it is true that dRs™Rj is most often translated mercy it also carries a larger semantic range. It is considered an essence of the covenant relationship between God and His people. dRs™Rj is descriptive of an unbroken, faithful, and steady love. It is often a referent of God’s love for His people, and translated as faithfulness, mercy, goodness, and/or kindness. As Waltke stated, “a most important term for describing the nature of the covenant and its spiritual obligations.”[38]Additionally, My¡ImSjår has a wider sematic range that what liberal theologians admit. According to The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (HALOT), in general it carries the meaning of “a feeling of love, loving sensation, mercy (originally designated the seat of this feeling, meaning bowels, inner parts of the body, the inner person).”[39]In the context of human relationships it means the inner self, inner being, referent of a mother’s love for her child as in 1 Kings 3:26, and of brotherly love among siblings as used in Genesis 43:30.[40]Moreover, this word has a special idiomatic function when connected with dRs™Rj, taking the meaning of grace, favor, and pity.  Thus, both words have slightly different definitions, and do not have to be taken as repeating the same emotion. This idiom is also use with YHWH as the antecedent in Psalms 25:6. Surely, the Hebrew text is not implying physical love in this text. The case posed by liberal theologians falls under the weight of the excluded middle fallacy (also known as false dichotomy)[41]. Note that none of the lexical definitions given have any implications of sex. The LXX, which predates the MT, uses the words εἰς ἔλεον καὶ εἰς οἰκτιρμὸν (mercy and Compassion) in translating this verse.
It is an established fact in biblical hermeneutics that context gives meaning, not the number of times it is translated. Exegetes understand that there are circles of context, which preserves the integrity of the text. The immediate context, the paragraph context, the major section of the book context, the full book context, the context in light of other books by the same author, genre context, Sitz im Leben context, the testament context, the larger biblical context. Keeping this in mind, there are several violations of context in the liberal view. The immediate context tells us that God gave (NAtÎn) these desires to Ashpenaz. The Sitz im Leben context tells us that the text is written to a people who lived in exiled for violating the laws of YHWH. Recognizing that these laws included harsh prohibitions against, it is counterintuitive for God to put desires He readily condemned in the heart of Ashpenaz.  On final note the idea that a lack of a romantic interest or sexual partner of Daniel in the Bible lends credibility to his homosexuality is an argument from silence. As any philosophy professor would chide, an argument from silence is never sound (pun intended). In one’s opinion Stephen miller offers the best explanation for this verse:

The writer again emphasized the fact that God was in control of the situation. He was able to direct the hearts of the captors to accomplish his sovereign will (cf. Prov 21:1). “Favor” (ḥesed) in this context suggests goodwill, and “sympathy” (raḥămîm) conveys compassion or a tender feeling. Ashpenaz had genuinely grown to admire and feel affection toward these Jewish captives. God’s common grace, which operates in the hearts of unbelievers, is exemplified here.[42]

Responses to the Homosexual Crisis
There are four different responses by Christians to the homosexual community. At first it seems a continuum, with hostility at one point of the spectrum and compromise at the other end, allowing for variation in between. However, the responses are based on the level of opposition to sin and the level of care for the sinner. The combination of these two factors creates a grid matrix of four different areas, each representing a different response. These areas are as hostility, compromise, apathy, and love (see Figure 1).
Fig. 1

Hostile
When a Christian has a high opposition to homosexual acts and a low care for the sinner, the response is hostility. This response is greatly represented by groups such as the infamous Westboro Baptist Church. For the most part, this is nothing more than a misguided attempt to strong-arm someone into changing his or her views. It is widely recognized that this militant method is ineffective and counter to a Christian witness.

Compromising
At the opposing end of the Hostile Response is the Compromising response. Compromise is chosen by those who have a low opposition to the sin of homosexuality and have a high level of care for homosexuals. The most representative group with this response is The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, a denomination whose members and clergy are mostly gay, lesbian, or bisexuals and the United Methodist Church who arrived at the conclusion that homosexuality is a gift from God. These denominations have opted to love homosexuals at the expense of their own eternal destiny; that is they love them to hell.

Apathetic
Those who have a low opposition to homosexual acts, and a low level of care for homosexuals, fall under the category of apathy. There are no denominations or groups representing this category, for they are found among both liberal and conservative denominations. These are the people who live by the slogan of, “live and let live, they are not hurting anybody.” This group of people has deluded themselves into believing that to confront the issue is to be judgmental. This group of individuals is a byproduct of the lack of discipleship in the churches. They have not yet realized that apathy is the opposite of love.


Loving
The final response to the homosexual community is based on a high opposition to the homosexual sin accompanied by a high level of care for those with homosexual tendencies. This is the most appropriate response for Christians. Those who fall under this category are found mostly within conservative, evangelical denominations. They confront homosexuality with a concern of the final destiny of those who act on their desires. These Christians do not glory in bashing homosexuals for their sinful acts, but care enough to lovingly confront them with biblical truth. Moreover, they do not treat homosexuals as second class citizens within the churches for they recognize that being homosexual is not the sin, the act itself is.

Conclusion
Three concluding truths should be recognized in response to the homosexual crisis. First, while the church should not affirm sinful activity such as homosexuality, adultery, idolatry, or greed, it should welcome anyone—gays included—to discover who God is and to find his forgiveness. Second, the Bible does not condemn homosexual inclinations, but rather sexual activity outside of a marriage relationship between husband and wife. In fact, no writers of antiquity, including biblical ones, ever spoke of “sexual orientation;” they talked only about sexual behavior. Third, specific Scriptures uniformly reject the legitimacy of homosexual relations in favor of a heterosexual union.[43]The church must stand guard that no form of “Christianized homosexuality” be adopted. There is no more a form of Christian homosexuality than there is Christian bestiality or Christian incest.  
   This paper encourages further debate and research on this issue. The principle of proper response can be applied not only to the homosexual community, but also to other deviant behaviors. Indeed the church must always respond in love and in accordance to biblical standards. In the near future the homosexual debate will become more heated. The church’s response will be the deciding factor on the outcome of this battle.


[1] LaTonya Taylor, “Talk of Presbyterian Split Grows.” Christianity Today. http://www.christianitytoday. com/ct/2001/december3/14.21.html ( August 12, 2012).
[2] Jacob M. Caldwell, “The Viability of Christian Same-Sex Unions: Why Scripturally Normed Faith Communities Must Support Homosexual Relationships.” Theology & Sexuality 16, no. 1 (2010): 62.
[3] James R. White, and Jeffrey D. Niell, The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message about Homosexuality (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2002), 45.
[4] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture references are from the English Standard Version.
[5] Donald J. Wold, Out of Order: Homosexuality in the Bible and the Ancient Near East (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 80.
[6] James R. White and Jeffrey D. Niell, The Same Sex Controversy: Defending and Clarifying the Bible’s Message about Homosexuality (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2002), 50.
[7] Jack Rogers, Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality: Explode the Myths, Heal the Church (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006), 73.
[8] Paul Copan, When God Goes to Starbucks a Guide to Everyday Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008), Kindle Edition location 1334.
[9] Canon DR Ron Cassidy, “The Clear Teaching of the Bible on Homosexual Practice,” The Expository Times 109, no. 15 (2004): 299.
[10] Greg L. Bahnsen, Homosexuality, a Biblical View (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed Pub. Co., 1978), 44-45.
[11] Willard M. Swartley, Homosexuality: Biblical Interpretation and Moral Discernment (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 2003), 31.
[12] Wold, 65.
[14] Bruce K. Waltke and Michael Patrick O’Connor, An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1990), 431.
[15] Ibid., 547.
[16] John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian era to the Fourteenth Century (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980), 108-109.
[17] Ben Witherington III and Darlene Hyatt, Paul’s Letter to the Romans: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2004), 69.
[18] Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1983), 114-115.
[19] Ibid., 106.
[20] Dale B. Martin, “Arsenokoites and Malakos: Meanings and Consequences,” in Biblical Ethics and Homosexuality, ed. Robert L. Brawley (Louisville, KY.: Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), 127.
[21] Ibid., 123.
[22] William Arndt , Frederick W. Danker and Walter Bauer. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BDAG). 3rd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), Loc cit.
[23] BDAG’ Loc cit.
[24] Randy Thomas, “Church Claims Homosexuality a Gift, Not a Sin–Jeff Buchanan Responds,” exodusinternational.org. exodusinternational.org/2011/05/church-claims-homosexuality-a-gift-not-a-sin-jeff-buchanan-responds/ (accessed April 20, 2012), 1.
[25] William J. Webb, Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2001), kindle edition, location 332.
[26] Ibid, 366.
[27] Uri Wernik, “Will the Real Homosexual in the Bible Please Stand Up?” Theology & Sexuality 11, no. 3 (2005): 52.
[28] Robert A. J. Gagnon, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001), 147.
[29] Wernik, 52.
[30] Ibid, 54.
[31] Ibid, 53.
[32] Jeff Miner, and John Tyler Connoley, The Children are Free: Reexamining the Biblical Evidence on Same-Sex Relationships (Indianapolis: Jesus Metropolitan Community Church, 2002), 29.
[33] B. A. Robinson, “Same-Sex Relationships in the Bible: Conservative and Liberal Viewpoints,”Religious Tolerance .org, N.p., 29 Feb. 2012. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. <http://www.religioustolerance. org/hom_bmar.htm>. (accessed September 2, 2012).
[34] Ronald G. Falconberry, “Does the Hebrew Word Dabaq Imply that Ruth and Naomi Were Gay?,” Ronald G Falconberry Writing Profile  Suite101.com http://ronald-g-falconberry.suite101.com/does-the-hebrew-word-dabaq-imply-that-ruth-and-naomi-were-gay-a297623(accessed April 22, 2012)..
[35] Peter Ould, “Ruth and Naomi—An exegesis: An Exercise in the Fundamentals of Orthodoxy.” An Exercise in the Fundamentals of Orthodoxy, 22 Apr. 2012. .22 (accessed Apr. 22, 2012.).
[36] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh ed. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).
[37]B. A. Robinson, “Same-Sex Relationships in the Bible: Conservative and Liberal Viewpoints,”Religious Tolerance .org, N.p., 29 Feb. 2012. Web. 22 Apr. 2012. <http://www.religioustolerance. org/hom_bmar.htm>. (accessed September 5, 2012).
[38] Bruce Waltke. A commentary on Micah (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007), 392.
[39]Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson and Johann Jakob Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Leiden; New York: E.J. Brill, 1999), 1218.
[40]Ibid, 1218.
[41]a type of logical fallacy  in which only two alternatives solutions are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option.
[42] Stephen R. Miller, vol. 18, Daniel, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 68.
[43]   Paul Copan, When God Goes to Starbucks: A Guide to Everyday Apologetics (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2008), Kindle Edition location 1234-1318.

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