Brothers and Sisters

A month or so ago some Swedish research hit the news. It shows that there are measurable differences in the brains of gay men and women. Gay men tend to have brains that resemble straight women and gay women tend to have brains that resemble straight men.

This does not prove that sexual orientation is genetic, but this combined with a number of other physiological differences is starting to build a strong case.

So let’s assume, just for the purposes of discussion, that research does eventually prove that homosexuality is genetic rather than a lifestyle choice. The current research suggests that it may have something to do with the level of male hormones in the mother during gestation.

Where does that put those who feel that it is a sin?

Perhaps it finally relegates it to the same status as touching a menstruating women.

Doesn’t this start to feel similar to the situation two hundred years ago when the Bible was used to justify slavery?

Just to refresh your memory.

“When a slave owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property” (Exodus 21:20-21).

The Southern Baptist Convention was founded for the purpose of preserving the Christian basis for slavery. To their credit Southern Baptists apologized in 1995.

It will be interesting to see how many apologies are given when homosexuality is proven genetic.

The Bible is a wonderful book that God gave us as a sufficient guide to working out our own salvation. It is most effective in that role when understood as a metaphor for modern life because it was written in a different time. It was this understanding of historical context which allowed clergy to see past the explicit Bible passages supporting slavery to the larger message of God’s love for all His children and our obligation to love our neighbor as ourselves. They used this understanding of the Bible’s real message to oppose and eventually abolish slavery. I predict that this same historical context and understanding of the Bible’s real message will be applied to homosexuality too, and the clergy will again lead the charge to reverse the legal and social discrimination currently imposed on gay men and women.

17 Responses to “Brothers and Sisters”

  1. keith says:

    Hey Jeff,

    In time with “evidence” I’m sure the whole bible can be tossed aside if we fit it to our present day “enlightenment.”

    Males want to have sex with females, females want to have sex with males. (Should I do heavy work and have this researched so as to present proper evidence? I’m sure you’ll allow me that one without siting harvard research.) So that being the case should we then apolegize for saying sex outside of marrige was incorrectly taught as a matter of biblical understanding? That for years we’ve kept males and females in bondage by teaching against this, I’m now assuming by your post, approprate and normal behavior?

    So, lets expand your post to include all sex outside of marrige between any one….and while we’re at it lets not discriminate against age either.

    The bible is very clear on this issue Jeff. If it isn’t then please submit your agruement for why we shouldn’t teach against men and women, boys and girls, from a bibical perspective about having sex outside of marrige and why petaphilia should not be forbidden.

    From a biblical perspective I have to ignor way to many verses to think same sex relationships are ok biblically.

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    I agree that there is a sacrament called marriage and a blessing that married couple enjoy when they wait to consumate their relationship until they are married. I think that applies equally to gay and straight couples.

    My post was simply comparing the process of putting the Bible into historical context with regard to slavery with what I predict will be a similar process regarding homosexuality. The Bible is much clearer in its support of slavery than it is in its prohibition of homosexuality, but I see way more people attempting to impose their interpretation of Bible morality on homosexuals than defending the rights of slave owners.

    Jeff

  3. keith says:

    I find no support what so ever for homosexual behavior in the bible. it is mentioned several times and never in the context that it is ok. it is explicity referred to as sin…..i’ve shown you these verses in the past.
    there is no confusion biblicaly that it is a sin. what support do you find for it. where can you show me any reference to it that, when mentioned, is done so unfavorably

    i need to include here that my remarks are not intended to point a finger at this behavior and single it out only. homosexuals, unrepentant, are no different then any other unrepentant person. they still have access to the Kingdom through Jesus just like the rest of us. they should not be treated unequally or in any way different then any other sinner, which includes us all. Jesus’ love for them is just as great as for anyone else. after all this is just another sin. for more on the Christian example i prefer for this is “His way out ministies.” i met this guy and after hearing him speak had to change my wrongful perspective on this to a more Godly one.

    i understand the intention of your post as you are trying to make the comparision with salavery and how later it became wrong. i’ve never done a study on the topic and i may now to support my thoughts. until now i’ve always put that one i the catagory of things God allowed for the “harding of our hearts.” just as men had several wives..just as he allowed isrial to have a king though he didn’t want it that way….etc.. not what God had intended but what he allowed. i don’t know that to be the case with slavery but i hope, time allowing, to look at this.

  4. Jeff Beamsley says:

    keith

    Thanks for the post.

    Very interested to read what you discover in your research about slavery and the Bible.

    I couldn’t find any place in the Bible where slavery is condemned as a sin. The closest I could come is a citation in Deut where Jews are required to help runaway slaves.

    Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality, but He did comment several times about slavery in Matthew, Mark, and Luke (the proper translation of servant in these verses is slave) where he used slave whipping as an example to always be prepared to meet your Lord.

    St. Paul did condemn homosexual acts, along with a lot of other things which we accept today, and also supported slavery. In one example, he even returned a runaway slave that he had met in prison to his Christian owner rather than set him free as suggested in Deut.

    So back to this concept of sin.

    I think that most Christians today would say the enslaving another human is a sin and it is certainly against the law. Yet there is nothing in the Bible directly condeming it. Most Christians come to that view because they are not reading the Bible as a literal document, but as a metaphor where the guiding principles are Love God and Love your Neighbor as Yourself.

    Now if we as a nation can figure that out by having a more enlighten understanding of the Bible, I’m certain that we can also figure out (as the genetic evidence mounts) that Bible doesn’t really mean what it says about homosexuality either. It is not a sin, but just another part of God’s creation.

    That said, I do think that homosexuals are bound by all of the same expectations of purity, chastity, and fidelity that we expect from pious heterosexuals. And I believe that homosexuals are capable of forming life-long bonds that are blessed in the same way that heterosexual marriages are blessed by God.

    Jeff

  5. keith says:

    I haven’t spent a great deal of time on this but I started. I found this that sums best all that I’ve come across. Go to “come reason ministries.” Find the search tab and type in “does the bible approve slavery.”

    I’ve done a lot of counciling in the area of money for both individuals and couples from a Christian perspective. A lot of the material I’ve read would sugggest becoming a slave to your poor choices, your debt, your circumstances, your money, etc. Paul asks us “not to marry” to avoid worldly concerns so we can focus all the more on the cause of Christ. Basicly this means to live an unencombered life. It appears for much of history and certianly in the perceptive of the write of this site, man would freely “enslave” themselves for one reason or another. Financially I teach lets “not” enslave ourselves, in fact lest’s unencomber oursleves. The use of the word slave is certainly different them what comes to our mind when we think of slavery in the south in the 1800’s.

    I wonder what his comments would be regarding the slavery of the Jews..God did say that would happen.

  6. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    I agree with your comments 100%.

    Now take that same open mind and apply it to comparable passages in the Bible regarding homosexuality. That’s all that I’ve been doing right along.

    In the old testament, the bible was warning about adopting pagan temple practices. In the new testament, Paul was warning in general about sensuality. The homosexuality that he was familiar with was either ritualistic (old testament), orgies (roman), or pederasty (boys kept as sex slaves). I’m fine with viewing that as sinful today too.

    Long-term commited and monogamous relationships, however, don’t fall into the same category (as far as I’m concerned).

    Jeff

  7. keith says:

    if the bible calls it “sin” men with men, women with women will you agree with me that it is?

    as to comparing it to my comments on slavery the pratice of giving yourself over as a slave was warned against. holding someone in captivity is something quite different. if it were ok then why did God free the jews?

    these two are completily different and to take an open mind to the subject of homosexuality while studing the bible will still one to the same conclusion, it is unnacceptable in Gods site, just as “slander, gossip, etc.

  8. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    No I won’t agree with you that homosexuality is a “sin” because you can’t pick and choose. The Bible also says wearing blended fabrics, cutting your beard, and intercourse with a menstruating woman are sinful.

    So it comes down to your interpretation of what the Bible means.

    That’s why the example of slavery is so interesting.

    There is both the symbolic and literal interpretations. I agree with you that the symbolic is much more informative. I am suggesting that there is a symbolic interpretation to the Bible’s prohibitions regarding homosexuality too. In my understanding, they speak to various forms of sensuality. I agree that this is sinful.

    I guess my question to you is do you think it is possible for same sex couples to have the same sort of committed faithful sexual relationship that is blessed in the Bible for heterosexual couples?

    Jeff

  9. keith says:

    No, they are unnatural and as such could never be comparable…..

  10. SocietyVs says:

    Comparing slavery and homosexuality – I also thought along those lines but I changed my opinion on that.

    Slavery is not a justifiable act – it is not the set norm in Jewish culture. If this was accurate – this depiction we see being mentioned all over this blog – then how come Jewish people were not that fond of slaves – in Roman times even. Somewhere someone is making a serious miscalculation concerning this issue – and berating Judaism in my opinion (by trying to use their scriptures for some justification for their argument).

    Firstly, God freed Israel from slavery – biblical fact. If God was so okay with slavery – why free Moses and the Israelites from it?

    Secondly, as we traverse down the line of the Tanakh – from Torah to the the Prophets – we do slavery is accomodated – but does that make it the standard? No, I don’t think so.

    (a) In all the minor prophets how often do you think slavery appears? 3 times and there is no tacit support of the idea of slavery.
    (b) In the wisdom lit – how often does slavery appear – 12 times and they are not tacit in support of the act.
    (c) In the major prophets – 4 times Jeremiah uses the term and that is it – again as symbolic examples and nothing more.
    (d) As for tacit approval of slavery in the gospels – yeah – the term appears a lot – but the actual scripture teaching supporting the action (or how to do it) does not.
    (e) As for Paul, Galatians 3:28 sets his record straight on the issue in my opinion. He may have had to accomodate for it – since it existed – but his highest ruling in faith is ‘no slave is unequal to another human’.

    I have heard this line of reasoning before – slavery – this is my contention – is not supported by scripture at all. Concessions were made – I can agree there – but the actual support of it appears in the Torah and then all but disappears. Which says to me the view of slavery changed over time – from Torah to Prophets.

    That all being said, the gay issue is even more hard to determine – since that term in not in the bible at all (it’s an english translation – for words like effiminate and soft). I think Jeff is the most accurate here – certain actios that gay people did in Roman times was ‘sinful’ – but then let’s go after those actions – like pedophilia if it should happen.

  11. Jeff Beamsley says:

    SocietyVs

    Nice to hear from you. Also I appreciate your thorough Biblical analysis.

    What I think Keith and I are chewing on is a fairly well established line of discussion – how to interpret the Bible.

    At the end of the day, I think that it is meant to be read and studied as a guide to salvation. The challenge I see is that many Christians don’t take the time to study it themselves. Instead they are willing to accept the interpretations that they get from the pulpit.

    I remember talking with a younger devout person who used to work for me and had recently joined a mega-church. He told me about starting a Bible study group. I thought this was great and starting talking with him about the particular passage (healing at Bethesda) that was the focus of their discussion that week. I really like several of the nuances (asking about readiness and healing only one of many) in that story. It was only then that I discovered that they weren’t actually reading the Bible passage at all. They were working from copied notes and suggested discussion topics provided by their pastor. I’m sure that they had a good discussion, but they were working from their pastor’s inspiration and not their own.

    I do believe that if people actually read and study the Bible with an open heart and mind, God will lead them where they need to go.

  12. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    “Unnatural” eh?

    So if it is determined that sexual preference is genetic and not a learned behavior, how does that affect your opinion?

    Seems to me that this behavior becomes supremely natural, since it is an individual responding to how they are wired.

    In that circumstance, “unnatural” would be someone who is genetically wired to find their own gender attractive associating that attraction with “sin”. As SocietyV has said, as long as it is between consenting adults, it isn’t the attraction that is sinful – it is how you choose to respond to it.

  13. Keith says:

    Only reading the first chapet of romans. If it weren’t unnatrual then it would not have been called as such. Further it is included as a list amoung many things that are to not to be praticed. (no of them are of the type of garment one is to wear.) all are clearly recognized as sin.

    Your whole premis depends on a “what if” a gene were to be found. Well Jeff, “what if” it isn’t. Then what happens to your thoughts and, more over, your advance condemnation of many, MANY people with the same biblical belief I have. Again this is hadly a streach based on Roms chapter #1… there is no nuance there.

    I’ll prepare a responce for you of what I think the bible is our differences clear flow from this understanding.

    Obama was not so sharp the other night. I do like him but he didn’t answer as well as I would have thought he would have or could have.

    He did make a point on the abortion subject that no one has ever made before. He said for the last 8 years we’ve had a pro-life president and and abortion rates remain unchanged. Telling as to only the supreme court can effect this. How a president feels is really off topic. The type of judge he appoints is clearly more on topic.

    Hope all is well

  14. keith says:

    Further, will we next look for a gene that leads us to murder? If so
    what happens to “thou shall not kill?”

  15. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    We already do that when we legally (and morally) recognize that guilt requires a level of mental competence, maturity, malice, and premeditation. So yes, if someone is genetically incapable of recognizing the consequences of their actions, they are not subject to the same penalties as those who are.

    I don’t think anyone (except perhaps Texans) feels this genetic exception in anyway weakens our commitment to the sixth commandment.

  16. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    My purpose in any case wasn’t to endear myself to the Gay community, just search for truth.

    We don’t say murder is OK any more than we say that sexual relations outside of marriage (or at least a committed relationship) is OK, or pedophelia is OK.

    What we do try to determine as a society, is whether or not those willful acts are committed by people who have the capability of understanding the consequences of their actions. As a society we also consider murder and pedophilia as much more serious than sexual relations outside marriage because in the later we’re dealing with consenting adults.

    So back to you, how can you hang the term “unnatural” on an act that (if there is a gay gene) is by definition “natural”?

  17. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Keith,

    You do suprise me when you so gracefully move from an inpreter of the Bible as far as slavery is concerned to a literalist when the topic is homosexuality.

    What to do about Romans 1? How about read Romans 2? Here’s how it starts – “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.”

    You have to understand the audience to understand the message.

    Paul is writting this letter to Christians in a Gentile land who were raised as Jews. What he’s telling them is that they may think that they are better than the Gentiles (traditional Jewish bias), but as soon as they start to judge the Gentiles for their percieved wickedness (Paul’s long list), they (the Christians) are just as bad as the Gentiles because the Christians are ignoring their own shortcommings.

    BTW, I agree that science and God are in harmony. That’s why I’m confident that science will conclusively prove that sexual orientation is genetic.

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