Fun Facts to Know and Tell: Jesus & Teh Gay
Friday, November 2, 2007
These days, you run into a lot of people who like to tell “stories”.
It’s really fun to tell stories.
One of the favorite type of stories that many people like to tell are “Bible Stories”.
Isn't that great?!?!
The problem is, some people like to tell “Bible Stories” that aren’t actually in the Bible.
I run into this problem a lot when people want to tell Bible Stories about “Teh Gay”, so I thought I’d put together a little primer for people who may not have actually read the Bible (and it turns out a lot of people haven’t actually read the Bible – especially people who like to tell Bible Stories and make them into big, fun cudgels to hit other people with!).
Fact or Fiction? Jesus thinks Teh Gay are sinful, and He said so.
Here’s an electronic copy of one of my very favorite Bible Tracts (click for animation):
Jesus never said anything about Teh Gay, or “Homosexuals” (or “Sodomites”, even).
It’s possible that it slipped his mind. He was awfully busy, and he only had three years to spread his message about how people should cast logs from their own eyes before they cast the motes from their brother’s eye and stuff.
Now that I think about it, though . . . . it would have been kind of hard for him to say anything about “Homosexuals”(or “Sodomites”, even), because there was no word in ancient Aramaic, Koine Greek, or Mishnaic Hebrew (the three languages commonly spoken in the Holy Land at the time) that means “Homosexual” (or “Sodomite”, even).
None of these languages had a word that meant “homosexual”, because at that time, the concept of a group of people who were “homosexuals” didn’t exist.
There were sexual activities that were prohibited by certain religions or cultures at the time (including having sex while on your period), but these were considered to be actions that anyone might participate in.
The idea that certain people were homosexual wasn’t conceptualized until the late 1800s. (The word “homosexual” is first recorded in print in a tract by Karl-Maria Kertbeny, which he published anonymously.)
In Biblical times, it was assumed that everyone was heterosexual, but that they might engage in homosexual acts. (So maybe Larry Craig is keeping up an ancient biblical tradition!)
Your head must be a-flutter at this point -- you must be wondering:
"But Portly Dyke! If there wasn’t any word for Teh Gay in Jesus’ time, what’s with all the 'Sodomite-This', and 'Homosexual-That' in the writings of the apostles, since Jesus himself had nothing to say about this pervey population?"
Well, as it turns out, the words which have been translated as "sodomite" and "homosexual" (from either “Kadesh” OT Hebrew or “Arsenokoitai/Malakoi” NT Greek) don't actually translate as "sodomite/homosexual".
I'm going to concentrate on "Kadesh" --as there is some reason to believe that "arsenokoitoi" might have been a word that Paul/Saul of Tarsus just made the fuck up! (OK, sorry -- I lost my "voice" there for a moment -- now moving back into light-hearted, comforting Biblical-scholar mode . . . . .).
“Kadesh”, in Old Testament Hebrew, refers directly to the concept of prostitution -- and not just any old run-of-the-mill street-walkin’, either!
Specifically, Kadesh means: “Temple Prostitute” (the word "Kadesh" is translated literally as "Sacred One/Sanctuary", and shares roots with the word "Kohdesh" -holy/sacred). Kadesh is the word for a male who has been dedicated in a pagan temple to provide sexual services in celebration of a specific deity.
Interestingly, the female version of “kadesh” (kadesh-ah) has always been translated in the OT as "harlot" or "prostitute", but as early as 500 C.E. (AD) the male "kadesh" magically became “sodomite” (even though there IS no word “sodomite” in Hebrew) – See, Look Here:
Click image for clarity.
The word for “Sodomite” (as in “dweller/person/man of Sodom”) would have been (and, in the OT, is always written as):
אַנְשֵׁי סְדֹם (pronounced: Ahn-shey S'dahm)
(Sodom) (Men of)
which looks (and sounds) nothing like "kah-desh" -- קָדֵשׁ.
Now, we all know that Sodom was a very, very bad place (and that is actually a Bible story) – but here’s what the Old Testament has to say on the precise reason why Sodom was such a very, very bad place:
Ezekiel 16:So now we know – the dwellers of Sodom did, indeed, commit “abomination” (תוֹעֵבָה Toyevah).
49 Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fulness of bread, and careless ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.
50 And they were haughty, and committed abomination (תוֹעֵבָה Toyevah) before Me; therefore I removed them when I saw it.
No one knows exactly when they were committing abomination, but some historians figure it was around 1892 BCE/BC.
A lot of Bible story-tellers like to say that the "abomination" in Sodom was "homosexuality", but from what Ezekiel says above (it's estimated that the book of Ezekiel was written in 500 BCE/BC), there may be reason to question whether the whole "Bad Ass Homos in Sodom" qualifies as a real Bible story, but there may be a real reason for opponents of SCHIP to be worried. Uh-oh.
For those who want to argue about the sins of Sodom from a New Testament angle -- Jude did write about "strange flesh" in reference to Sodom and Its sins, but this may have been a reference to people who are into rape (or specifically, into raping angels -- Wow! -- that's just got to be Extra-bad karma!) -- but Jude was writing at around 50-60 CE /AD.
So who you gonna trust?
Someone writing one thousand 392 years after the event? (*Ezekiel saw the wheel, way up in the middle of the air*)
Or someone writing one thousand 948 years after the event? (Hmm. Can't think of a good song about Jude at the moment . . . . OK -- how about this? *Hey Jude, don't make it bad . . . *)
These are tough choices, to be sure.
And the question remains: Exactly Which abomination did Sodom commit? (Cuz, the OT lists a whole bunch of things that are Toyevah/abomination).
Sooooo ---- Ding Ding Ding Ding!!!! It's time for a round of Abomination BINGO!!!
- Remarrying a woman you sent away/divorced? ~ Deuteronomy 24:4
- Sacrificing while you're wicked? ~ Hebrews 15
- Following the way of the wicked? ~ Hebrews 15
- Thoughts of wickedness? ~ Hebrews 15
- Melting down an idol and keeping the gold? ~ Deut 7:25-26
- Bringing this gold into your house? ~ Deut 7:25-26
- Being Proud of Heart? ~ Proverbs 6:5
- Committing wickedness when you're a King? (Uh-oh, Georgie!) ~ Prov 16:12
- Sacrificing a blemished ox, or sheep to the Lord? ~ Deut 17:1
- Lying with mankind as with womankind? ~ Lev 18:22
- Making your children walk though fire? ~ Deut 18
- Consulting divination? ~ Deut 7:25-26
- Consulting a ghost? ~ Deut 7:25-26?
- Wronging the poor and needy? ~ Ezk 18:
- Stealing something? ~ Ezk 18:
- Breaking your word? ~ Ezk 18:
- Worshipping idols? ~ Ezk 18:
- Charging interest? (Uh-oh, Corporate Banking!) ~ Ezk 18:
- Giving someone more than 40 lashes?(Uh-oh, "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques"!) ~ Deut 25
- Muzzling an ox when it is treading corn? ~ Deut 25
- Not marrying your dead brother's wife? (You know, she can loose your shoe and spit in your face for that!) ~ Deut 25
- Intervening in your husband’s fight with another man? ~ Deut 25
- Weighing something illegally? ~ Deut 25
- Watching while your brother's oxen and sheep are driven away and not bringing them back? Or his ass? Or his garment? Or not helping him if his ass or his ox fall down? ~ Deut 22
- Wearing garments not assigned to your gender? (Uh-oh, Me!) ~ Deut 22
- Making a graven or molten image and set it up secretly? ~ Deut 27
- Justifying the wicked? Condemning the Righteous? ~ Prov 17:15
- Saying "Peace, peace" when there is no peace? (Uh-oh, Military-Industrial Complex!) ~ Jeremiah 8:11
If you're trying to choose the "correct" abomination for what qualifies as true "Sodom-y", and you feel confused, don't feel too bad -- I, too, once felt confused about Sodom and just what, exactly, it had done to earn the firey, brimstoney wrath of God.
And that's when I discovered it --
THE pinnacle list of abominations (תועבות) -- That's right! --
(neatly capsulized into succinct Bible verses ~ Prov. 6:16 -19)
The point being: Sodom’s “Abomination” could have been any one of the things listed above. G-d just isn’t all that specific about it (except where He is specific about it).
Then again, like Jesus, God might have been very busy at the time of the Ezekiel 16:49-50 “snowflake” memo (like Son, like Father, as they always say!).
The moral of today's post is: 1) If you're going to tell Bible stories, make sure that you tell stories that are actually in the Bible, and 2) if you want to use a certain Bible story to validate your point of view, understand that another person might use the same Bible story (or any other wonderful Bible story) to invalidate your point of view, or validate a completely different point of view.
Cuz that's what's really FUN about the Bible!
Posted byPortlyDyke at 9:40 PM