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30.1.04

In The Biblical Sense

One More Article Explaining That The Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

... In the United States it did not become illegal for a man to rape his wife until 1993, when marital rape became a crime in all 50 states. Even now, certain exemptions are provided to a husband in the rape of his wife. How much less likely is it that a man was allowed to force himself upon his wife in the time Leviticus was written? Except for shakab there isn't a word in the First Testament used to describe what we think of as rape today. Rape is viewed as a property crime?property is defiled. The perpetrator and the property may be destroyed. Another remedy was that the rapist had to marry his victim. This remedy doesn't consider the damage to the victim, only the reputation of "the property" and the family that owned it (her).

I argue that shekab in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 means that a man shall not force, or in any way coerce, another man to have sex, in the way that a man is allowed to force sex upon his wife. In other words, man is not allowed to rape a man, it is an abomination. The story of Sodom supports this interpretation. Remember that the attempted rape of the "men" in Lot's house is seen as a horrible crime, whereas the attempted rape of his daughters, or the rape of the concubine of Gibeah in Judges 19, passes without comment. Though the verses in Leviticus condemn the rape of a man, they say nothing about healthy, mutual, consensual relations between members of the same sex.

-- via boy in the bands


This is an interesting argument. However, the idea of wives as property seems to cast doubt on the author's subsequent claim that homosexuality is found in approving contexts in the Bible, such as David and his good friend Jonathan:

The First Testament does describe loving relationships between members of the same sex. The author seems to respect the privacy of the subjects of these stories by describing the loving relationships and not the blow-by-blow accounts of hot male-on-male action desired as proof by the lurid conservative Christian. Even "heterosexual" relationships are not described this way, sex being alluded to in terms of the marriage contract, the births of children, and various rapes.

In Deuteronomy 13:6 it is written,

"If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers ..."

This verse lists a man's relations in order of closeness, descending to ascending: brother, son or daughter, wife, friend which is as thine own soul. This suggests that the man in this society maintains a relationship with another man that is closer than that of his wife, a relationship which is as close "as thine own soul."


I'm not convinced that talk about close relationships between men in the Bible is a wink-wink indication of homosexuality (though there's also no evidence that it definitely isn't). Human beings generally have a need for emotional closeness to others. In our society, that need is usually paired with the need for sex, so that one's lover is also supposed to be one's closest confidante and source of emotional support. A good argument can be made that sex needs closeness, but there's no reason why closeness must be accompanied by sex. I imagine most people have had very close friendships with people they would not want to have sex with, even people of the appropriate gender.

In a society where a woman is treated as the property of her husband, it seems likely that this sort of emotional bond would be more often made with a member of one's own gender. Perhaps I'm unusual, but I would find it exceedingly hard to form a close bond of respect and emotional support with someone who I viewed as my property. This is amplified by two sociological factors. First, marriage in premodern societies was often done for reasons having little to do with the love and friendship that we take as the basis of marriage today. Marriage was about establishing kinship ties that paid off economically and politically. It would be no surprise in this situation that husbands and wives wouldn't be each other's closest friend, and wouldn't be expected to be. Second, men and women inhabited separate domains. This would result in less time together, and fewer shared experiences (such as the emotional intensity of battle that David and Jonathan shared) that would form the foundation of a close bond.

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