Homosexuality and the Bible

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Table of Contents

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Introduction

In 2008, the American Anglican Council of Bishops took an unprecedented step to repeal its historic homophobic philosophy and confer the title of Bishop on an Episcopalian priest who had openly acknowledged that he is both gay and living in a gay relationship.  In its defense, the Council of Bishops announced that it could find no Biblical authority about homosexuality that would direct it to decide against the appointment.  Change is in the air.

Today we have begun to witness a growing split within many traditional Christian and Jewish denominations where voices on one side are raised in support of bringing gays into their religious communities and where voices on the other side are raised in opposition according to religious tradition.  Indeed, it is not uncommon today to hear about some Christian or Jewish sectarian denomination that has decided to welcome gays into its congregation and church leadership or one that has actively participated in a civil rights demonstration demanding that gays be granted the the same civil liberties in personal relationships as are now extended to heterosexuals.

Not surprisingly, the most strident opposition to bringing gays under the protection of the church and synagogue comes from Fundamentalist Christians, Mormons and Orthodox Jews.  This opposition generally focuses on two issues: the sociological and ethical consequences to families or the community at large  and the justification on Biblical authority.  Both of these claims deserve examination but the question of Biblical authority is the primary focus of this paper.

For those who want to know more about the sociological questions related to gay lifestyles, the following links will be helpful:

  1. Homosexuality – A Medical View   –  The prevailing medical view about homosexuality
  2. Christianity and Human Sexuality – Historical origins of Church attitudes about human sexuality.

 

Biblical Version Used

Scholars of religious history generally agree that the New Revised Standard Version (NSRV) Bible ( both testaments) is the most historically accurate of all the Bible versions currently in publication.  The King James version, first published in 1611, is  surprisingly one of the least accurate.  That is because scholars today have vastly more resources available to them than did scholars in the 1600s.  Today some 5,400 New Testament documents, ranging from scraps to complete texts, have been recovered and these resources make it possible for present day scholars to reconstruct the most accurate translations ever of the lost autographs of both the Old and New Testament scriptures.

The New International Version (NIV), while popular in many Protestant churches today for having been written in the lingua franca of the 21st Century, lacks the same authority of the NSRV because the ancient source documents have been reinterpreted and revised to reflect modern Protestant doctrines that are the result of 2000 years of theist evolution.  For these reasons, all Biblical passages quoted in this paper are all taken from the NSRV .

Relevant Scripture

It is often the case that the only authority given for a particular exegetical conclusion will be nothing more than a single line of scripture.  Even the NT authors were guilty of this practice.   A single line quotation from a body of text is called a  pericope (pronounced “per ick o pee”) and a pericope without the context of its surrounding verses can easily be used to justify any number of conflicting interpretations.  In other words, a text out of context is, more frequently than not, a pretext.  To get at the writer’s intent then, an interpretation of any pericope must be supported by its surrounding text and Biblical pericopes are no exception.

The most frequently cited Biblical passages used to support the Christian doctrine opposing homosexuality, are listed below beginning with the earliest texts and ending with the latest.  For those interested in  additional information and analysis of these passages click on the link entitled Additional Information at the end of each Biblical citation .

Biblical Citations

The following citations are those claimed to address homosexuality

GENESIS 2:18, 22 and 24 (Adam and Eve)

2:18 Then God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’

2:22 And the rib that God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.

2:24 Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.

CLAIM:
The helper that God gave Adam was a woman not a man, therefore, God intended for human relationships to be heterosexual and not homosexual because an important and necessary consequence of that relationship is procreation

RESPONSE:

The fact that a heterosexual relationship has God’s approval does not, a posteriori, mean that a homosexual one does not.  This passage alone tells us nothing explicitly about God’s position on homosexuality.  Since these verses are silent about that aspect of human behavior, we can say nothing with absolute certainty about what the early Israelites believed was God’s opinion of it.

Based upon the writings of St. Augustine and St. Francis of Assisi, the early church taught that it was a sin to engage in any kind of sexual activity that was not exclusively meant for procreation.  But even the Catholic Church has now recanted this view.   Family unity and stability depends on the mutual love and respect between husband and wife, and today, the Church also acknowledges that this bond is enhanced by sexual intimacy. To promote this newly understood view of human sexuality, Pope Pius XII, circa 1968, approved the “rhythm method” as an acceptable birth control measure.   Approving the  rhythm method is the very acknowledgement that sexual relations do not always need to have a procreative purpose.

LINK (to Additional Information)

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GENESIS 19:4 – 11  (The Story of  Lot)

5 and they called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, so that we may know them.’

CLAIM:
The men of Sodom practiced all manner of debauchery including same-sex relationships and they therefore wanted to  have sex with Lot’s male visitors. God destroyed the city of Sodom for, among other things,  sexual impropriety because they engaged in homosexual acts.

RESPONSE:
One of the social imperatives of the ancient Hebrew culture was that a host must always assume the burden of responsibility for the safety of his guests and that burden was extensive.  Scholars agree that the story of Lot was written to illustrate the extent to which a host was expected to make any and every personal sacrifice necessary to protect those to whom he had offered his home as a shelter.  The confrontation between Lot and the angry crowd from Sodom sets the scene in which Lot will be forced to make an unthinkable personal sacrifice to protect his guests from harm.  It is this scene that is used to justify the argument that Sodom was punished for its homosexual activities.

In response to the threatening crowd, Lot chooses to offer his two virgin daughters to them  rather than surrender his guests in compliance with their demands.  Most anyone would agree that allowing the rape of the host’s two virginal young daughters to prevent the the rape of the two adult male guests is the greater abomination of the two …  and that is precisely the extreme moral dilemma that the writer wants you to feel because it so poignantly emphasizes the  burden of responsibility that falls on the shoulders of a host to protect his guests.  So the story of Lot is not focused on the subject of homosexuality at all and a later Biblical verse in the Old Testament does confirms this.

Ezekiel 16:49 says “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom: pride, fullness of bread, and prosperous ease was in her and in her daughters; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”  In Ezekiel’s accounting for God’s punishment of Sodom, he does not include sexual impropriety in his list of sinful acts they committed. Homosexuality is simply not the subject of this Biblical account.

LINK (to Additional Information)

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LEVITICUS  18:22  and 20:13 – Holiness Code

18:22  “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.” 20:13  “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death.

CLAIM:
The two verses above are unmistakable in their meaning; homosexuality is sin against Nature and therefore is abominable in the eyes of God.

RESPONSE:
To be sure, ancient Hebrew society scorned homosexual relationships in much the same way our society does today.  That scorn however does not seem to be of paramount interest to the community nor the subject of detailed dialog in scripture.  The Leviticus prohibition, for instance, is not a reoccurring theme in the Hebrew culture and it is not repeated again anywhere else in the Hebrew Testament.  Nor is there any historical record in evidence that anyone was ever brought before the Sanhedrin on charges of being a homosexual.  And while the ancient Hebrews often interpreted laws addressing a man’s behavior as being intended for both sexes, there is nevertheless no specific Biblical criticism of sex between female partners.  Instead, this passage seems to be more concerned with prohibiting the act of anal sex than it is with being a sweeping condemnation of homosexuality.

The anal sex prohibition is consistent with other prohibitions against any sexual act that does not or cannot lead to procreation.  This interpretation led King Henry VIII to adopt, in 1533, a contemporary church doctrine into a system of civil laws that defined Sodomy as both a sin and a crime, since ecclesiastical law recognizes no distinction between the concepts of “sin” and “crime.” Sodomy included any form of non-procreative acts including self sexual gratification, oral and anal intercourse.

Although Orthodox Judaism today still endorses this prohibition, it does so by even handedly condemning anal sex between both homosexuals and heterosexuals.  The fact is that we cannot ignore the conspicuous absence of any Biblical proscriptions specifically singling out homosexuals for condemnation concerning their cohabitation or consensual sex acts.

LINK (to Additional Information)

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ROMANS 1:26-27

1:26  “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature;”

1:27 “And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.”

CLAIM:
This scriptural verse stands as the capital New Testament text that unequivocally classifies homosexual behavior as a sin.

RESPONSE:
What is Paul really addressing in these verses?  A reading just these two verses alone would give good cause for one to believe that he is speaking out specifically against homosexuality because he refers to both male and female genders.   But when these passages are read in context with their surrounding verses, a different picture emerges.

The passages in Romans 1:22 – 1:31 tell us that Paul is actually criticizing gentiles (not Jews) who recently had converted from paganism to Christianity but who subsequently had fallen back into their old pagan ways.  These pagan religions, as we know, involved the worship of graven idols and often included sexual relations with male and female temple prostitutes as part of their religious ritual.  Accordingly, Paul’s focus is not on homosexuality but rather on admonishing them for their having returned to the pagan practices of idolatry and ritual impurity instead of adhering the Mosaic law as instructed by Jesus.

As further evidence that homosexuality is not the subject of Paul’s criticism, we see in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 that those who will be barred from the kingdom of God are the fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers and robbers …. but there is no mention of homosexuals.

 

LINK (to Additional Information)

Conclusions

Theological doctrines arise from two primary sources: Biblical exegesis and church tradition.  What is clearly evident here is that the Christian anti-homosexuality doctrine is demonstrably rooted in church tradition not scriptural proscription. While theological and moral values arising out of church tradition may not be explicitly set forth in scripture, they are nevertheless just as important as any doctrine arising from direct textural interpretation of scripture itself.  The point of this essay, however, was to demonstrate that there is no explicit proscription in scripture that directly addresses the subject of homosexuality.

Post Script

Some scholars believe that Paul himself may have been gay.  The following two commentaries offer scriptural interpretation that supports this thesis.

His character was torn apart by inner conflicts. One trouble was that he suffered on occasion from what he describes as a “scolops”, a “thorn” in the flesh, a disability of which he three times asked God to relieve him, without success. Certain Fathers of the Church and many subsequent writers thought it referred to sexual temptation. The great Pauline scholar, Arthur Darby Nock, although unwilling to commit himself on the meaning of the particular phrase in question, has lent his authority to this interpretation of Paul’s general attitude: “The point of difficulty for him perhaps lay in sexual desire, of which he speaks.” Paul’s hostility to sex cannot be entirely attributed to his belief in the imminence of the Second Coming. His unmistakably pejorative attitude does raise insistent questions about his own tastes and practices. Suppressed and frustrated sexual desire, then, may be the “thorn in the flesh” of which Paul complains.

Michael Grant, St. Paul, 1967, Charles Scribners Sons

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The war that went on between what he desired with his mind and what he desired with his body, his drivenness to a legalistic religion of control, his fear when that system was threatened, his attitude toward women, his refusal to seek marriage as an outlet for his passion — nothing else accounts for this data as well as the possibility that Paul was gay.  It explains Paul’s self-judging rhetoric, his negative feeling toward his own body and his sense of being controlled by something he had no power to change.

To me it is a beautiful idea that a homosexual male, scorned then as well as now, living with both the self-judgment and the social judgments that a fearful society has so often and unknowingly pronounced upon the very being of some of its citizens, could nonetheless, not in spite of this but because of this, be the one who would define grace for the Christian people. Grace was the love of God, an unconditional love, that loved Paul just as he was. A rigidly controlled gay male, I believe, taught the Christian church what the love of God means and what, therefore, Christ means as God’s agent. Finally, it was a gay male, tortured and rejected, who came to understand what resurrection means as God’s vindicating act.

Bishop John Shelby Spong, Rescuing the Bible From Fundamentalism, 1991

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Additional Supporting Information

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GENESIS  2:18, 22 and 24 (Adam and Eve) 

This passage is also often cited to defend the Christian institution of “marriage”.  But Paul, who is probably history’s single most important contributor to Christian philosophy, often spoke with disfavor about the institution of marriage.  Thomas Cahill summarizes Paul’s view thusly, “Paul does not give patriarchal marriage and family life his unalloyed seal of approval.”[1]  Can Christians therefore legitimately claim that heterosexual marriage has God’s unequivocal approval to the exclusion of all other personal relationships?

Finally, if one believes that the Bible teaches against sexual activity between homosexuals as “contrary to the procreative purpose of human sexuality” (McNeill), then isn’t it also true that sexual activity between heterosexuals must be condemned if procreation is not the goal?  That is of course precisely the conclusion that Saint Augustine and Saint Thomas Aquinas draw.  Both see that the “natural” reason for sex between a man and a woman is for the sole purpose of procreation.  Augustine even goes so far as to claim that a man should not marry except to produce offspring.  Both agree that sex between a man and a woman for any other reason than to procreate is an “unnatural” act and this consequently led them to the conclusion that sexual pleasure is itself a sin.  But the unintended consequences of opposing homosexual relationships because same sex couples cannot procreate is that it also limits sex between heterosexuals to intercourse alone .

GENESIS 19:4 – 11  (The Story of  Lot)

Finally, a likely explanation for the townspeople’s principal interest in Lot’s visitors is that Sodom recently had been at war (Genesis 14:1-2) and therefore the citizens were probably on the lookout for spies and saboteurs who might be trying to infiltrate the city.  Any alien, visiting  Sodom  in these tense times, probably would have been, at best, mistrusted and, at worst, unwelcome.  Moreover, the people of  Sodom  were already well known for their mistreatment of unwelcome visitors.

The theme of hospitality and a hosts duty to his guests appears again in Judges 19:20 – 25.  Here a man (not Lot), living in the Benjaminite town of Gibeah, invites two wayfarers to overnight in the protection of his home.  He is later confronted as Lot was by the local townspeople who demanded that the two visitors be surrendered to them so that they could be “intimate” with them.  The two stories are so similar that one might conclude that the later writer simply copied the story from Genesis and changed only the names and places.  But there is a repeating theme here that goes beyond the individuals involved in each story.  What is being emphasized by the writers is a social custom that demands an extraordinary commitment in providing hospitality to guests.  In these societies, it is the duty of a host to provide for the safety of his guests regardless of the personal cost to himself.  Nothing about the story in Judges has anything at all to do with sexual misconduct or any other sin.

To summarize, the idea that the crowd of men who surrounded Lot’s house was bent upon having homosexual sex with his visitors has many problems:

  1. The visitors were angels and angels are non-human entities.  So if sex with them was the crowd’s objective, the crowd would be committing an act of bestiality not homosexuality.
  2. Lot ’s actions are contradictory if he was intent upon expressing a moral opposition to homosexuality.
  3. In ancient Greek, “to know one” had several different meaning one of which meant to” identify” someone.  Historically the people of Sodom were known for their xenophobia and their distrust of anyone outside of their community.  It is far more likely that the people of Sodom were interested in Lot’s visitors out of concern for public security than as sex objects.
  4. The story in Judges about the Benjaminite town of Gibeah is nearly identical to the story of Lot and it too has nothing to do with sexual misconduct.  It is a lesson about about hospitality and the extreme extent to which a host must go to protect his guests.
  5. God destroyed Sodom for reasons other than sexual misconduct.  Sexual misconduct is not even mentioned as a reason .

 

LEVITICUS 18:22  and 20:13 – Holiness Code

These verses are probably quoted more often than any other as Biblical support for the argument that homosexuality is a sin.  But there are a number of reasons why one should question this interpretation.

For example, many Christians consider homosexuality to be a sin against nature.  If so, then why is bestiality a “perversion” (Lev  18:23  ) while male-male sex is only “detestable” (Lev  18:22 ) or an “abomination (Lev 20:13)?   If both are sins against nature then shouldn’t they both be considered a perversion?  Does the meaning of the word “perversion” have some important distinction compared to the apparent synonymous use of the words “detestable” and “abomination” ?

The word “homosexual” defines same-sex relationships of both men and women but all Jewish halakhic (religious-civil law) authorities agree that nowhere in the Torah does the Torah prohibit sexual acts between women[2].

Many of the laws in Leviticus are “identity” laws.  That is they established customs unique to the Jews so as to set the Jews apart from all other non-Jewish cultures.  The prohibitions on consumption of certain seafood or the use of cloth made of woven wool and linen and restrictions on personal grooming such as not cutting one’s sideburns or tattooing one’s body are good examples of this.

Likewise there were  religious identity laws that defined what was and was not permitted in the practice of Jewish religious ritual as well.  Because some ancient pagan religions in the agricultural regions practiced fertility rites that involved sex with male (and female) temple prostitutes (1 Kings 14:24; 15:12; 22:46; 2 Kings 23:7), it makes sense, therefore, that the prohibition in Lev 18:22 was not about lifestyle but instead was about insuring that Jewish religious ritual would be differentiated from those of pagan religions.

This view makes even more sense when one realizes that the Hebrew the word “to’ebah”[3] refers to the breaking of either a moral or ritual law and was translated to Greek in the Septuagint as “bdelygma.”[4]  In this context, bdelygma more properly translates as a statement that “ritual idolatry” is “detestable” or “an abomination.”  This seems to be consistent with a reading of Deuteronomy 23:17 where the following proscription is given,

“None of the daughters of Israel shall be a temple prostitute, none of the sons of Israel shall be a temple prostitute.” (or in Hebrew  a “qadesh” or a “quedeshaw” respectively).

These were terms applied to those special prostitutes who had a specific role to play in the temple. They represented a God and Goddess, and engaged in sexual intercourse in that capacity with members of both sexes in the temple.

As Peter Berger  puts it, “Thus, for instance, it would be very misleading to think that the persistent attraction of sacred prostitution (against which the spokesmen of Yahweh thundered for centuries) was a matter of mundane lust.  After all, we may assume that there were plenty of non-sacred prostitutes around (to which, it seems, Yahweh’s objections were minimal).  The attraction rather lay in an altogether religious desire, namely in the nostalgia for the continuity between man and the cosmos that was sacramentally mediated by sacred sexuality.”[5]

Further confirming the notion that these passages in Leviticus pertain to ritual idolatry and not homosexual relationships is the historical fact that the Talmud itself does not record a single instance of a person being brought before the Sanhedrin on charges of practicing homosexuality[6] .

 

ROMANS 1:22-27

In Romans Paul says,

1-22-31: “Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised.  For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.  And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips,30slanderers, God-haters,* insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious towards parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.”

Worshiping false gods and indulging in ritual idolatry was clearly the offense that Paul’s had in mind when he admonished those who had conducted themselves in this manner .

 

Some Final Thoughts

The case that many Christians make against the practice of homosexuality is based upon their understanding that the Bible speaks out against such relationships.  However a careful reading of scripture does not seem support this belief for the following reasons:

  1. There is no Biblical prohibition against female-female sex acts so same-sex relationships (homosexuality) cannot be at issue.
  2. A male-male ritual sex in pagan ceremonies was a common practice within the Canaanite fertility religion and was even taken up by some ancient Israelites.  In 1 Kings  14:28  ;  15:12  ;  22:46  and 2 Kings 23:7, the shrine prostitutes were removed from the temple and expelled from the land because their presence in the temple was considered a “ritual idolatry.”
  3. In the Septuagint, the proscription in Lev  18:22  most likely refers specifically to ritual idolatry rather than lifestyle
  4. The Talmud does not record a single instance of a person being brought before the Sanhedrin on the charge of homosexual activity.

Proverbs 6:16 states, ‘There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are abomination to him ….’ But list does not include anything about same sex lifestyle or sexual activity.

  1. If God considers same sex relationships to be an abominable sin, then surely the Bible would be unequivocally specific about homosexuality as it is regarding other sins and therefore Christians would not have to rely so heavily upon innuendo to make their case against it.
  2. George Bernard Shaw summed up the problem nicely when he once said, “No man ever believes that the Bible means what it says. He is always convinced that it says what he means.”

Church traditions can and do change with time.  Earlier generations, for example, believed that the Bible condoned the practice of slavery, or that a woman was the personal property of a man, or that non-Christians deserved conversion or death.  These are certainly not theological issues but they did represent church tradition at one time in history.  Yet today, Christians would consider these acts to be sins against mankind contrary to earlier church teaching.

If homosexuality is not explicitly addressed in scripture, then how does one address those who steadfastly insist that it is?  For that answer, we can turn to John McNeil’s cautionary advice,  “It would do well to recall here the words of the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Second Vatican Council dealing with the interpretation of sacred Scripture [that says]

Since God speaks in sacred Scripture through men in a human fashion, the interpreter of sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate the meaning the sacred writers really intended and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words.

This cautious investigation of the intention of the human author is especially called for in dealing with biblical passages which traditionally have been accepted as dealing with homosexual activity.” [7]

The “coming out” has begun.  Homosexuals are openly establishing themselves in our communities and they are becoming political activists bent on protecting and advancing their minority rights.  Recent Federal Court cases portend a future where homosexual relationships will be given the same treatment under civil law as are presently provided to heterosexuals.  In their decisions, the courts have repeatedly cited the protections guaranteed under the 14th Amendment which protect minority groups from the tyranny of the majority.   And in that regard, Christians have the obligation to revisit scriptural interpretation in the light of the enormous volume of contemporary religious scholarship available to them today that has been done by both Catholic, Protestant and secular religious scholars in the past 50 – 75 years.  It wasn’t all that long ago, that Christians used scripture to deny blacks their equal rights or to justify a ban on inter-racial marriages and the current homophobic rhetoric we hear today sounds very much like the same thing.

The motivation for reexamining traditional Christian interpretation of scripture in regard to homosexuality is found in the advice great theologians like Saint Thomas of Aquinas.  Turning to McNeill again he says, “In their traditional presentation of moral obligation, Aquinas and Alphonsus Liguori, among others always maintained nulla obligatio imponatur nisis sit certa.”  This is interpreted by McNeil to mean that morality must regularly be tested against:

  1. The uncertainty of clear scriptural prohibition,
  2. The questionable basis of the traditional condemnation in moral philosophy and moral theology,
  3. The emergence of new data which upset many traditional assumptions, and  …”[8]

And finally, if none of the above is persuasive to the Christian reader then  he should at least be mindful of what Jesus said (Matthew 5:44  -48),  “….He (God) maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust…. Ye therefore shall be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” or to paraphrase, “You must give to everyone the same justice that you would give a friend because that is what God would do.”

William T. Benson
12/29/2008

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Footnotes:

[1] Desire of the Everlasting Hills by Thomas Cahill, page 234

[2]A Heterosexual Jewish Rebbe’s View on the (Supposedly) Homosexual Texts in the Hebrew Bible by Reb Gershon Caudill, the Ecokosher Rebbe, August 2001;  http://www.affirmation.org/learning/heterosexual_jewish_rebbes_view.asp

[3] To’ebah is defined as, “… Abomination of the highest degree; originally that which offends the religious sense of a people…..These terms differ greatly in the degree of the abhorrence implied and should be distinguished in translation ……still more offensive to the God of Israel is the practice of idolatry. The idol itself is called an Abomination: ‘for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house and thus become a thing set apart like unto it; thou shalt utterly detest it and utterly abhor it; for it is a thing set apart [tabooed]” (Deut. vii. 25, 26, Heb.)’ ” – Source: Jewish Encyclopedia.com, definition of To’ebah.

[4] The Greek word “bdelygma” means literally “to turn up the nose against.”  This is a metaphoric expression connoting a judgment of dislike or disapproval about a thing or an act.  Throughout the Bible, this Greek word is most frequently translated as “abomination” or “detestable” to emphasize that the acts being described are of a far more serious and communal nature than those of just a casual and personal aversion.  Also, in the Torah, the use of “bdelygma” is used in connection with three important issues: conduct of a divorced man (Deut 24:4), financial misdealing (Deut 25:16) but, the third most frequent use pertains to idolatry in the biblical tradition.   Many pagan religions included ritual sex acts performed with a male or female prostitutes who played the role of a god or goddess.  Viewing a temple prostitute as a god or goddess is an unmistakable act of idolatry and explains why “bdelygma” was used to condemn such acts in lieu of another pejorative word.

[5] The Sacred Canopy by Peter L. Berger, page 115.  Berger is University Professor and Director of the Institute for the Study of Economic Culture at Boston University.  His publications in the field of Religion include, The Heretical Imperative: Contemporary Possibilities of Religious Affirmation; The Noise of Solemn Assemblies; and The Precarious Vision.

[6] A Heterosexual Jewish Rebbe’s View on the (Supposedly) Homosexual Texts inn the Hebrew Bible by Reb Gershon Caudill, the Ecokosher Rebbe, August 2001;
http://www.affirmation.org/learning/heterosexual_jewish_rebbes_view.asp

[7] The Church and the Homosexual by John J. McNeill, page 38.  McNeill  is an ordained priest and a practicing psychotherapist.  He received his doctorate in philosophy from Louvain University in Belgium and has taught philosophy and theology at Fordham University, Union Theological Seminary , and other institutions.

[8] Ibid, page 21