CW: This post covers sensitive subjects, such as homophobia, abuse of power, and child sexual abuse. Reader discretion is advised. I am not a scholar or theologian, but someone passionate about extensive research, learning religious history through context and reputable Hebrew scholars etc. Any and all abusive comments will be blocked and reported.
For those of you who have been reading my blog for a while now, you’ll know I’ve been on a journey of finding my faith. It has fluctuated throughout my life, but through various experiences, extensive research and how it makes me feel on a personal level, I’m feeling more at peace with my personal faith rooted in Jesus’ teachings in Christianity and Quakerism.
My own personal take is that God/A Higher Power is behind everything, including all belief systems and that we’re all under the same roof. There’s no one cookie cutter way to find peace in a belief system if that’s what works for you (it doesn’t for everyone, so no shittiness to atheists please! Everyone is welcome here) as long as it doesn’t harm you or anyone else. Do good. Do no harm.
I suppose I’ve always felt like this, but either been afraid of judgement from others or sadly, like many of us, having bad experiences with religious people who, despite teachings not to judge and help others, find their comfort in judging and demonizing. I’m not about that life. And through my lifelong love of learning more about world faiths and cultures, I find one thing is incredibly important: Historical context.
Religious scriptures are very rich historical documents. Therefore, history is key to our understanding, whether we believe in it or not. Hebrew Bible scholars, historians, learned preachers alike, history, linguistics and context brings to light a lot of mistranslations and verses taken out of context. So let’s start with a light subject, shall we? (Note the sarcasm): Homophobia!
Unfortunately, many of us have been met with the infamous ‘clobber verses’ some Christians use to justify homophobia, be it just a ‘I just don’t agree’ to outright physical violence. However, when you look at the historical context and Hebrew Scholar findings, you’ll find these ‘clobber verses’ are not actually to do with two consenting adults, who are not straight, in love.
Let’s start with ‘the big one’, shall we? Leviticus 18:22
‘A man shall not lie with a man as with a woman; that is detestable.’ – Leviticus 18:22, NIV
So, some folks, especially those who interpret the text literally (due to the text being so heavily steeped in history, metaphor and symbolism, I am very much against a fully literal interpretation) might say, ‘Well, it says here quite clearly. Being gay is wrong…’ However, let’s unpack this:
The entire Leviticus 18 chapter focuses on what is called ‘unlawful sexual relations’, a series of laws given to Abraham’s descendants. This is post-Passover (Passover took place in the book of Exodus) after Moses frees the Israelites from Pharaoh. These laws include not committing adultery, incest and period sex.
As well as that, the verse before and after 18:22 is very telling: Leviticus 18:21 states that one shall not sacrifice one’s children to Molek (sometimes referred to as Moloch or Molech) an ancient Canaanite god, as it was considered profane against God. However, there has been some speculation amongst scholars that Molek might be the actual term for said child sacrifice. Leviticus 18:23 states one shall not commit bestiality.
At the time this was written, something that was very common at time was something called Temple Prostitution. There are multiple references throughout the Bible of figures visiting temple prostitutes. It wasn’t uncommon for married people to take part in seeing temple prostitutes in ritualised orgies and paired sex, and male temple prostitutes were particularly vulnerable, as male prostitutes were typically boys.
I know. Disgusting.
In the Hebrew and Greek texts (the Bible was originally written in Hebrew), there is reference to ‘males’ or ‘boys’, that ‘a man shall not lie with a boy/male as he does with a woman.’ etc. ‘Males’ was a term in Greek that could be used to refer to boys at the time. In Ancient Greece and Rome, it was common for married free men to take in a slave boy ‘lover’ (usually between 10-18) where he would essentially use him as a sex slave. It is sometimes referred to as pederasty in certain texts.
So historically speaking, with the backing of historians and Hebrew Bible scholars, not only was this infamous clobber verse actually about paedophilia and sexual slavery (a modern equivalent, for example, would be sexual slavery in and around human trafficking) and the use and abuse of power in sex. NOT two consenting adults of the same sex/gender in love with each other.
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