Responding to Jared Wellman in Love

· Reason, Theology
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(King David Embracing Jonathan)

Jared Wellman’s popular blog, addressing the “culturally beloved song” Same Love, is really stirring up the fundamental Christian base. A friend of mine posted it on his Facebook page, I made some comments, and then I was blocked.  I have been considering these thoughts for close to two years now and I think this is the time to speak up. I don’t have anything against Jared Wellman and I would even encourage all of you to check his latest post, which I have considered while writing this. I don’t want to come off as antagonistic. I don’t believe the way I do,  in order to satisfy some inner pride. What I believe bothers a lot of people, because it shakes their predisposed cultural interpretations and it makes them have to confront some of their long held ideas. I know that changing ones beliefs is hard, and it is met with much resistance, so here I type, not for acceptance into some majority ideologue, but in order to find the Truth. I am a Philosopher; that is what we do. So, even the words I write today, I may consider wrong later; and I am premising the rest of this post with my belief that it is okay to change your mind when faced with new arguments. With all that said:

Wellman addresses “3 reasons to support homosexuality” Although there is a difference between supporting the equalization of marriages awarded by the state and supporting homosexuality; and one can certainly see trouble in equivocating the two, but that is beside the point here. I don’t disagree with some of his statements. “Sin can only be cured by Jesus.” Yes. Absolutely, and the Gospels are littered with examples of people coming to Jesus, with good intentions, but holding bad expectations. Constantly, Jesus tells people not to worship him as a fully human teacher, but to look to God, who is the only Good thing. But then there is Wellman’s statement that “Scripture speaks of homosexuality as a sin.”

DOES IT?

I know that is how we interpret arsenokoitai but there is a long tradition of it meaning something far less specific as “anal sex between two men.”

For example, Philo the Jewish philosopher referred to the arsenokoitai as a temple prostitute who wishes to be a woman from birth and may even go so far as to castrate himself and wear purple robes(The Special Laws, Book III, passage 37).  The specific acts that Philo sees as sinful, is the pleasure of boys and beast alike. Those partaking of this particular sin

“in the first place devoted themselves to gluttony and wine-bibbing, and other pleasures affecting the belly and the parts adjacent to the belly, and then when fully sated have behaved with such extraordinary insolence […] that in their insanity of passion they have gone frantic and been so maddened as to desire to longer human beings whether male or female, but even brute beasts…”

And this isn’t the only passage that Philo explains in detail this unnatural desire. In On Abraham passage 135, Philo goes on to say that

“As men, being unable to bear discreetly a satiety of these things, get restive like cattle, and become stiff-necked, and discard the laws of nature, pursuing a great and intemperate indulgence of gluttony, and drinking, and unlawful connections; for not only did they go mad after women, and defile the marriage bed of others, but also those who were men lusted after one another, doing unseemly things, and not regarding or respecting their common nature, and though eager for children, they were convicted by having only an abortive offspring… so, by degrees, the men became accustomed to be treated like women… became like women in their persons, but they made also their souls most ignoble, corrupting in this way the whole race of man, as far as depended on them.”

This is something greater than homosexuality.  It’s perversion.

Another example of arsenokoitai is the Syballine Oracles reference as an economic sin; one who cheats his fellow man out of deserved grain (Book II, 70-78).  It says in an almost un-decipherable proverb

“Be satisfied with what  you have and keep yourself from that which is another’s. Speak not what is false, but have a care for all things that are true. Revere not idols vainly; but the God who’s imperishable honor is always first, and next your parents. Render all things due, and do not come to unjust judgments. Do not cast out the poor unrighteously, nor judge by what is shown on the outside; if you judge wickedly, God will judge you in the same manner. Avoid false testimony; tell the truth. Maintain virgin purity, and guard love among all. Deal measures that are just; for beautiful is measure full to all. Strike not the scales one side, but draw them equal. Forswear not ignorantly nor willingly; God hates the perjured man in that he swore. A gift proceeding out of unjust deeds never receive in hand. Do not steal seed…”

This isn’t homosexuality. It’s exploitation.

Another strange use of the word is by John the Faster, who claims “in fact, many men even commit the sin of arsenokoitai (anal sex) with their wives (Penitential). The full passage speaks of all sorts of sinful sexual acts (masturbation, lawful marriage, incest, bestiality, threesomes, etc.) and the varying degrees in which each one has in regard to its harm to oneself and others. But, again, this passage isn’t about being a homosexual. It’s about being a pervert, or even being a sexual dominator over others; abusing the gift of being sexual beings, by exploiting others.

A final example is the use in The Apology of Aristides (Chapter IX)

“Greeks bring forward as a god Kronos, that is to say Chiun (Saturn). And his worshippers sacrifice their children to him, and they burn some of them alive in his honor…Kronos went mad, and through fear of an oracle that had been made known to him, he began to devour his sons. And from him Zeus was stolen away without his knowledge; and at length Zeus bound him, and mutilated the signs of his manhood, and flung them into the sea…Great then is the error and ignominy which the Greeks have brought forward about the first of their gods, in that they have said all this about him, O King. It is impossible that a god should be bound or mutilated; and if it were otherwise, he is indeed miserable.”

Besides the fact that this is a passage set to dispel the actuality of the Greek gods, it is also a passage that uses arsenokoitai differently. This isn’t about homosexuality. It’s about mutilation of the body, and how it doesn’t reflect the sacredness that gods are supposed to uphold. Mutilation, is abuse, and abuse of others is Sin.

When looking at just 4 extra-biblical uses of the word, we get a far greater picture of what Paul is referring to. He says:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor arsenokoitai nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Look at that passage. Does something as specific as “men that have anal sex with other men” contextually make sense in a list of things much more broad and universally struggling? I don’t think it does, and I have not heard compelling arguments from those that do. The most logical translation is something like “abusers of mankind,” or “Perverts,” or Exploiters of the weak,” but not “Homosexuals,” or “men that have anal sex with other men.”And I think when we look at it this way, perhaps we have all been abusers of mankind; perhaps we have all committed the sin of arsenokoitai. We exploit the weak in many different ways, and take something as sacred as sex and turn it into idolatry.

BUT THANKS BE TO GOD

Paul Continues:

You were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I don’t think Wellman can honestly look at the text and point out to the specifics of monogamy between two men as being a sin, so, his first point has little bearing on the fact that we are all sinners, and Jesus cleanses us of unrighteousness. Sin is things that spread inequality, exploit those weaker than us, hurt others and ourselves, and things that spread division in a church that is supposed to be built on unity and love. Again the Oracle writes, “guard 
Love among all. Deal measures that are just; 
for beautiful is a measure full to all.” A question that might be asked of Wellman, is where in the bible does it say Rape is a Sin? It doesn’t, unless of course we take arsenokoitai to mean exploitation and abuse of the weak; perverting sexuality with lust and violence. Then absolutely, yes, the bible implies rape as being sinful.

___

There isn’t much to say about his second point, except that I think fundamentalist of all stripes often box themselves into an “Us versus Them” mentality, and so, they will see all sorts of things as prosecution that are not. Yes, one cannot make the statement that gay is the new black, but also one should not make a blanketing statement about how the media is attacking Christians who stand for traditional marriage. This is a very dangerous and divisive belief, and it isn’t always true.

___

Finally, to address his third point, in accordance with his latest blog, Wellman seems to be antagonizing Macklemore, and claiming that he isn’t even a Christian. That is a lofty statement, and if anyone is making division in the church, it is those that are going on an all-out tirade against gay Christians. It brings to mind another passage:

Avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned.

Perhaps this is the same passage that my friend brought to mind, right before deleting and blocking me from his Facebook, I don’t know, and I’m not going to sweat it. Because when it comes to discussion of homosexuality, what should be really addressed is the question of where our focus is. Is the discussion bringing more people to the gospel of Jesus Christ (that is while we were still sinners Christ died for us) or is it turning people away? Is the discussion living up to the main tenants of the faith (Love God, Love People)? I’ve tried to explain elsewhere that Love is going to overshadow one’s sexual preference, but perhaps it is worth repeating again.

I leave you with another secularist song about Love.

8 Comments

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  1. Lynne Denena

    Long winded little guy. A lot of words to dance around the truth. Similar to the notorious shell game. Simply put, Wellman quoted scripture. Putting that up against some old gays thoughts, words, deeds does not even make sense. Right is right. Wrong is wrong. Can’t change that no matter how much you study the situation. SORRY! Too Simple? We all have to live with it one way or the other!

    • billytalty

      Lynne,
      Wellman quotes an English version of words originally written in ancient greek. What he is doing is called preaching. What I’m doing is called exegetical teaching. Scholars do this all the time for much less controversial topics. For example does it matter the context of Romans 12:1 when Paul says, “present your bodies as living sacrifices?”

      I think it does, afterall, we don’t want to see a bunch of christians self-immolating.

      The same thing is being done here, just people have strongly held beliefs about what the text says, or at least what they want it to say.

  2. personhoodinitiative

    is a very simple compound word which originated in the Septuagint translation of Leviticus 20:13. The two root words used to form this word are very easily seen and translated. They are the words arrhen meaning “man” and koitai meaning “lay.” The two together in a compound masculine noun can only mean “men who lay with men.”

    I highly recommend the article “Homosexuals or Prostitutes” by David F. Wright. You can read this article for free on jstor at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1583059

    I also recommend the article “The Source and Meaning of Arsenokoitai, with Implications for Christian Ethics and Ministry” by James B. DeYoung. DeYoung’s article can be downloaded at: http://www.tms.edu/tmsj/tmsj3h.pdf

    By the way, if you’d like a good explanation the passages in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, I would recommend the article “‘And with a Male You Shall Not Lie the Lying down of a Woman’: On the Meaning and Significance of Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13” by Saul Olyan. You can download this article at: http://rbedrosian.com/Sex/Olyan_1994_Leviticus.pdf

    • billytalty

      Thank you. I have spoken with a friend who also explained to me this theory. However, the argument would suffice if there weren’t already renditions of the word being used, which Paul would have been aware of. So, the question is why, if Paul knew of these other words, did he go out of the way to use a new word, unless he was attempting to relay a different meaning? My guess is another term that could be created from the coupling of these two words is Man whore, which would be a new concept. That is just one example as to why I dont necessarily adhere to that theory.

      • personhoodinitiative

        You obviously have not read Wright’s article yet. He addresses your sources as well as about half a dozen others. For example:

        In regards to the Apology of Aristides, Wright said, “It seems clear that Aristides employed three different words, each with its own nuance, to incriminate male homosexuality as unworthy of gods and men. The parallelism not only suggests the meaning of arsenokoitia but also confirms that the arseno element is the object.”

        In regards to the Sybilline Oracle, Wright demonstrated how the word arsenokoitai was used in the second oracle in place of the phrase “arsena Kuprin orinein” in an earlier text by Ps-Phocylides. This phrase was a well known slur used in reference to homosexual men a literal translation of which would be “men excited by effeminate male lovers.” Wright’s point was that the substitution of arsenokoitai for this phrase in the early second century offers strong support for the claim that arsenokoitai is a reference to male homosexuals.

        Wright also provided the original Greek text and an excellent translation of the statement from John the Faster which is translated as “some men even commit the sin of arsenokoitai with their wives.” This is a very poor translation of the original sentence. Wright presented an alternate translation, and if you can read koine Greek, then you should be able to tell immediately that his translation is the better of the two. Here is how he translated this section of John the Faster’s letter:

        “Incredibly enough, some men even go as far as having incestuous intercourse with their own mothers, or some again inflict it on their own daughters or goddaughters. Indeed, (would you believe it that) many men even engage in homosexual activity in the company of their own wives.”

        Once again, I would highly recommend that you read some scholarly material on this subject. The claims which you are repeating have been proven false dozens of times in the past thirty years alone. If you are unable to read Wright’s article on jstor, then you can find it in pdf format at this link: http://www.williamapercy.com/wiki/images/Homosexuals_or_prostitutes_studies_of_homosexuality_volume_12.pdf

      • billytalty

        Thanks, I will look at that. I have had a healthy long discussion with scholarly friends and it has been helpful. still, even if we admit that the text is dealing with homosexuality generally, there are other ethical questions which arise from this, that must be answered. I’ll address your contributions and more in a follow up blog.

    • billytalty

      I actually did read that, however, why wouldn’t have paul used the terms already there? Philo uses a similar term to mean this, but Paul exclusively uses it this way, which makes me think he may be trying to get another point across. Perhaps Man-Lay is Man-whore? Perhaps the real sin that Paul is addressing is promiscuity that is prideful? Who knows, I nor you nor Dr. Wright knows this, we are all trying our best to understand it, but we don’t really know, hence my clause at the end there. It doesn’t really matter what we think it means, because we shouldn’t be that concerned about homosexuals in the church, that is something they need to talk to God about and we can give them all this info and allow them to make their own choice. But I know christian men who are in loving homosexual relationships, and I am not going to waste mine or their time arguing them away from God.

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