The Homosexuality Question, Part II: Jesus DID Say Something

“This is pretty much everything the bible has to say about gay stuff…” is how I started the Bible gay hatlast paragraph of part I, but that’s a little bit disingenuous. There are other passages within the bible that are of interest to LGBT’s but they are not as explicit and directive as the six quotes I examined. There are several (possible) love affairs, most notably David and Jonathan, and Ruth and Naomi. Also, there is the matter of this weird word, “racha” (often written “raca”) found in the Sermon on the Mount and nowhere else. What is it?

The New International Version of the Bible leaves the word untranslated in its place (as does the KJV): Matthew 5:22: “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” What about the other translations? The New Living Translation uses the word “idiot”. The English Standard Version uses “fool”. The New American Standard Version uses “good-for-nothing”. In a real stretch, the Aramaic Bible in Plain English uses a phrase “I spit on you”.

It’s pretty obvious that this word “racha” is some kind of a slang word, pejorative and dirty. And because it wasn’t a “nice” word, no one ever wrote it down, except in this one Biblical spot! In fact, no other ancient textual source of the word was found until 1934. from igfculturewatch:

Further, in 1934 a papyrus was published from Hellenistic Egypt of the year 257 before the Christian era that contains the word rachas in an unspecified derogatory sense, but a parallel text suggests that it had the meaning kinaidos (“faggot”). It would thus have been a loanword from Hebrew in the vulgar speech of the Greek settlers in Egypt.

A-HA! Now things are starting to make some sense! Why would Jesus say “stupid” in his second prohibition and “you fool!” in his third? The answer is that he would not! Jesus is telling us in Matthew 5:22, in his second prohibition, not to call people out as faggots, plain and simple as can be.

Okay, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of LGBT’s. Jesus “racha” comment does tell Christians to get off LGBT’s backs about the persecution stuff, but doesn’t condone LGBT’s themselves. But there is another spot in the Bible that does better, Matthew 8:5-13:

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terribly.”
Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?”
The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

What? That doesn’t sound like much of a LGBT endorsement? Once again, it’s all in the translation. The original word used that was translated as “servant”, is “pais”. What is a pais? Basically a squire…with benefits. Not all Romans used their pais like that, but Luke corroborates that in this particular instance, the Roman Centurion mentioned in Matthew probably did. In Luke 7:1-10, the story of the Centurion and his pais is told again, but this time, the servant is referred to as “entimos doulos”. From St. John’s MCC Community website:

“The word doulos generically means ‘slave;’ it could not mean son or boy. Entimos means ‘honored’, so the combination would produce the contradiction of ‘honored slave,’ meaningless unless it applied to a ‘junior or younger male partner.’ Thus the meaning of pais in Matthew is limited to the partner in a same-sex relationship (reputedly, the shield bearers for Roman soldiers were their lovers).

In other words, Matthew and Luke both tell a tale of one half of a LGBT couple being told that he had “the greatest faith in all of Israel” for believing Jesus could heal his lover, sight unseen! Unlike the woman who had been accused of adultery, Jesus never told the Centurion to “go and sin no more”. This LGBT endorsement sounds a bit better now, doesn’t it?

…And this is all without even getting into the “born eunuch” controversy…yet.

EDIT 8/21/12 I didn’t find this link until after I published this blog, but it does a GREAT job expanding on the story of the Centurion and his pais, and even brings gay marriage into the conversation: When Jesus Healed a Same-Sex Partner

Part I:   The Homosexuality Question Answered:  Not a Sin

The Homosexuality Question, Part III: Pro-Marriage Equality…Because the Bible Tells Me So?

About thomsense

Just a domesticated housemonkey with too much time to think about stuff.
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32 Responses to The Homosexuality Question, Part II: Jesus DID Say Something

  1. Pingback: The Homosexuality Question, Answered: Not A Sin – Web-Log9

  2. slrman says:

    When you’re debating about something that was written 2,000 years ago, copied, recopied, and translated and then translated again, centuries afterward, you cannot assume no mistakes were ever made no “edits for their own good” were ever made or that the entire thing is nothing more than BS. Plenty of other places have clearly been shown to be wrong, or simply made-up fables.

    Mostly, the babble has been “interpreted” in those translations and copies so it would seem t mean whatever the person doing the work wanted it to mean. All of it was done so badly that the contradictions were not even edited out.

    Essentially, it’s all nonsense, so who cares what it says?

    • thomsense says:

      slrman you are right. The Bible has been endlessly massaged over the centuries, and mistakes both accidental and intentional have been made. But that doesn’t make it BS. That makes it an incredibly resilient set of documents, to survive today with as few mistakes in it that it’s got, and with such continuing popularity.

      “Who cares what it says?” About a billion people! If you really want to get into the heads of a billion of your fellow humans, including a substantial number number of your countrymen, then you could hardly do better than to read and study their holy book a little.

      • slrman says:

        “As few mistakes as it’s got?” It IS bullshit. It is so full of contradictions and outright lies that even a casual study of it in an objective manner would reveal that it is nonsense.

        Billions of people believe it? So what? Lots of people believed the earth was flat. Did that make it true? The truth is the truth even if no one believes it. A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it.

        I have read the babble many times. That’s how I became an atheist. You would do well to read it yourself.

        Yes, it does contain a few independently verifiable historical places and events. Does that make any of the rest of it true? Not a bit. Here’s how that works.

        On the 11th of September, 2001, two commercial aircraft flew into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, killing thousands.

        Some people believe that this was an act of terrorism by an Islamic fundamentalist organization.

        It was really the power of my god (he who must not be named) directing those planes to warn the people of the USA and the world to abandon their wicked ways and praise the only true god.

        The first sentence is unquestionable historic fact. The last sentence is a delusional lie but is impossible to prove to be false. The “truth” of all “holy books” is based upon this same technique.

        The babble is BS. I can provide you with many contradictions, myths, and outright lies from it. How many do you want?

        The first sentence is unquestionable historic fact. The last sentence is a delusional lie but is impossible to prove to be false. The “truth” of all “holy books” is based upon this same technique.

      • Autumn says:

        Read, study and RESEARCH the bible. You should look at definitions, and culture to understand what was happening in the bible. It doesn’t merely have “a few mistakes” as you declare. It is completely filled with contradictions, and retractions. Jesus himself was created (if we decide to go along with the bible being a truth) to correct God’s mistake. What mistake? He gave us 10 commandments to follow. You break one you break them all. And gosh darn wouldn’t you know it? We humans are flawed. So what happened? Everyone went to Sheol. You know the place that Jesus went to rescue those who belonged in Heaven.. yet didn’t make it because God didn’t know we couldn’t perfectly follow all or any commandments. God obviously didn’t know that if we messed up we had no way to redeem ourselves… ooopsy! Enter Jesus. He died for all our sins.. every man woman and child, with his death we are forgiven… done deal, what is the need of worship, and obeying and having an uptight existence for fear of Hell’s Damnation when he died, forgiving all my sins, cleaning the slate, how can it get dirty again if he cleaned it 2000+ years ago? Another, angels were created with free will but without the capacity to commit sin…. enter Lucifer, angel of music, SINNED. Job 15:14-16 judging humans with contempt..judge not lest ye be judged, aka SIN. God can create on good, it is the Devil who corrupts and preverts his works for evil purposes.. God CREATED LUCIFER…. who (according to this barely flawed book) claims is entirely and wholly EVIL… hmmm. 2 Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for REPROOF, for CORRECTION, and for training in righteousness.” His word is absolute is it not? The beginning and the end the whole, the absolute undeniable truth… except the bible states, scripture can be CORRECTED and REPROOFED, for training in righteousness coincidentally defined by God, which apparently is subject to change. Leviticus 18:22 the supposed anti gay verse.. you ready? Not translated in it’s whole. translated, in it’s entirety it states, “man shall not lie with another man, on the bed of a woman”, which would be done to insult her implying she wasn’t good enough, just as Reuben slept with his fathers wife in his father’s bed to insult him. The word Qadesh which somehow Christians think means homosexual.. (heads up.. that word didn’t exist then) and it’s literal translation means shrine prostitute, since Sodom worshipped false gods and had sexual rituals at the shrines.. the word Sodomites referred to Qadesh, the inhabitants of Sodom. Sodom in Hebrew (Cedom) means to scorch or burn. 1 Cor 6:9 translated malakos as effeminate, it really means soft, and is referring to catamites. A catamite is a young boy who is kept for sexual use, by their guardian an older male.

        Sorry, your “few mistakes” has seemed to pile up to a bit more than just a few, and even if there were only a “few” they are so huge, that they actually collapse it entirely. Seems to me YOU need to do a bit more studying.

        Great point about billions of people believing, so it can’t be wrong.. Hitler accomplished the same thing.. I can only assume you think he was on the same plain as the bible and God. I mean how can SO MANY people believe something that isn’t true?

        • slrman says:

          AS I have often posted, “Beliefs, no matter how sincerely held, do not alter facts.”

          Unfortunately, the religious not only demand to have their own beliefs, but insist they have their own facts, too. Furthermore, they demand that everyone else adhere to those “facts” no matter how ludicrous they are. If someone objects, they cry “persecution!” and threaten them with hell. If they had real facts, they would not need to use the carrot and stick of false promises of heaven and empty threats of hell.

  3. you lost me on this one spot, it did not come through to me as making a good connection…here it is:{ meaningless unless it applied to a ‘junior or younger male partner.’ Thus the meaning of pais in Matthew is limited to the partner in a same-sex relationship} would you elaborate on this a bit for me. I would love to be able to share this in a way that is convincing. thanks. Woody

    • thomsense says:

      Within the link I provided at the end called “When Jesus Healed A Same-Sex Partner”, there is this:
      “But pais does not mean “servant.” It means “lover.” In Thucydides, in Plutarch, in countless Greek sources, and according to leading Greek scholar Kenneth Dover, pais refers to the junior partner in a same-sex relationship. Now, this is not exactly a marriage of equals. An erastes-pais relationship generally consisted of a somewhat older man, usually a soldier between the ages of 18 and 30, and a younger adolescent, usually between the ages of 13 and 18. Sometimes that adolescent was a slave, as seems to be the case here.”
      This passage asserts that pais equals a same-sex relationship between unequals without going into the entimos doulos argument at all, which was really only supplementary to the point anyway. Hope this helps!

  4. slrman says:

    It all sounds like pretty this, vague stuff. Much as the christian “interpretations” they try to push onto people to justify their own actions.

    One would thing that a “divinely inspired” text would be clear, concise, and unmistakable. Or maybe their god was really a semi-literates moron? That would explain a lot of things, wouldn’t it?

  5. Alicia says:

    Ruth and Naomi were mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, not a lesbian couple. You think Naomi was cheating with the wife of her own son? Or maybe took up with her as soon as her son dropped dead?

    You could make an argument for David and Jonathan perhaps, but calling Ruth and Naomi a lesbian couple makes it sound like you never actually read the Book of Ruth.

    And this:

    ” so the combination would produce the contradiction of ‘honored slave,’ meaningless unless it applied to a ‘junior or younger male partner.’

    Is that supposed to be a serious statement? No, “honored slave” can mean “honored slave” – that’s not meaningless phrase. You don’t realize that some slaves had higher positions than others? You think if someone is called an “honored slave” it follows that they’re gay?

    Look, I support same-sex marriage, full inclusion is all places, etc. But the attempts to stretch words till they break in order to claim New Testament or historical church support are rather embarrassing.

    • thomsense says:

      You’re right, that attempts to “stretch” scripture can be embarrassing, and perhaps I’ve done that here in my blog. But “entimos doulos” from Luke was actually not the substantive passage here, “pais” was, from Matthew. Luke was only the supportive passage. I am interested to hear what you have to say about that, in particular.

      As for Ruth and Naomi, while I can say that I’ve read the passages a few times, I cannot say that I’ve read it recently. I was not doing a blog on them, and therefore addressed them as possible lovers, not actual, of which there is some proof. Thank you for granting to me that there is significantly more proof for David and Jonathan! This is no more or less than the truth! There IS a lot less evidence to tie Ruth and Naomi together as an LGBT relationship than there is to tie either David and Jonathan, or Daniel and Ashpenaz. Perhaps I will do a blog on these possibly LGBT relationships in the future! Though right now, after delivering the trilogy, I feel like my head has given birth to a watermelon…

    • thomsense says:

      One more update: today I realized I wrote “probable” when I meant to say “possible”, regarding the lesbian and gay couples of the Bible. While I’ve reviewed the proofs before and think “probable” is accurate, I wasn’t willing to make that claim, stir up that controversy, and have to defend it! “Possible” is WAY easy to defend, for all couples I mentioned, and I have revised the blog.

  6. Kate says:

    Hmm, but Jesus apparently uses “racha” elsewhere to describe the Pharisees . . . so if he was warning against hate speech, he also used it : /
    http://www.ask.com/wiki/Matthew_5:22?
    The interpretation of the centurion who asks for his slave to be healed is very interesting, though! I always thought that seemed out of character for a centurion . . .

    • thomsense says:

      Thank you for your comment Kate! Thanks for the complimentary (I’ll take “interesting” as a compliment, any day!) comment on the story of the Roman Centurion, and thank you for your link! After reading through it, and what you had you say, I had a few questions.

      Your link disposed of the issue of “racha” meaning “faggot” in a rather offhand way. “Most scholars reject this view” reminds me of a recurring skit on this Canadian comedy show I used to watch in the early 90’s “Kids In the Hall”. The name of the skit was “30 Helens Agree”, and they had a group of 30 women, out in a field, all presumably named Helen, saying some to the funnest things, in unison. But I’ll admit I haven’t yet checked out the link they’ve got right after their offhand disposal, so perhaps it’s in there; why, exactly, “Most Scholars reject this view”. As far as I’m concerned, Why would Jesus use a word that meant empty-headed in the second prohibition, and “you fool!” in the third? That makes absolutely no sense and until you can address that issue about your interpretation, my eyebrows remain firmly ensconced somewhere inside my bangs.

      The other thing I noticed about your link, is that I couldn’t find anywhere in it that described “Jesus apparently uses “racha” elsewhere to describe the Pharisees . . . ” as you wrote. Not a problem, of course. But you’ve left me burningly curious, what is the source of that oh-so-tantalizing thing you’ve said?? I’ve not heard of that before and want to know about this occurrence of Jesus using the word against the Pharisees! I want to know! Pretty-please!

      • Kate says:

        Hi Thom! In the link I sent you, it says “Jesus uses the term himself in Matthew 23:17 when he is deriding the Pharisees.” It’s the first paragraph under “insults.” I certainly intended “interesting” as a compliment and thank you for sharing that story.
        Now, if you want to reserve doubts about the Koine Greek qualifications of Ask.com, I’m right there with you : )

      • thomsense says:

        I just looked it up, and got to this webpage (http://biblos.com/matthew/23-17.htm), where the romanized expression of the “fool” word in Matthew 23:17 is listed as mōroi, not racha or raca. But that’s just one source. If you find another that says different, I’m all ears!

  7. Pingback: The Homosexuality Question, Part III: Pro-Marriage Equality…Because the Bible Tells Me So? | evoL =

  8. Pingback: Pro-Marriage Equality: Because the Bible Tells Me So?… The Homosexuality Question, Part III | evoL =

  9. kzottarelli says:

    I have a cousin whose mom didn’t want to or couldn’t call him what he is ..GAY. He bought a house and has shared and lived in that house with his ” close friend ” for just about 20 years now, but throughout all these years his partner has only been referred to as his ” close friend “. KievJoy, If you know plenty of men who put their “close friends ” before their wives you might want to clue those wives in as to what kind of “close friends” they are!

  10. robw77 says:

    David may have been anointed by Samuel but Jonathan was Saul’s heir. And David became king after Jonathan was killed. A statement about modern men putting friends before wives does not address the context…at that time, men would be expected to respect other men more than women. The reason that David would make the statement would be to point it out in the context where they would not be expected to…which would be spousal. Also… if you want to compare it to modern times, the episodes with Saul and Jonathan and David and Jonathan hiding in the field is exactly the experience that many gay men have with their irrate straight parents and their commitment to the love of their life.
    It is obvious that heterosexual writers through the centuries have sought to tell these stories and play down relationship overtones. The reason the David/Jonathan account survived is because there had to be a justification for him to become king (besides the fact that God wanted him to be) and his relations with Jonathan were those justifications.

    • thomsense says:

      Wow Rob, all this David and Jonathan stuff sounds like a blog post! Get on it, Dude!

    • KievJoy says:

      Sorry to disagree with you, but I think from the story as a whole it’s clear that Jonathan understood that David would be next king. Saoul was the first king, so it wouldn’t have been as in today’s age when there is a set line for ruling. even with Devid’s sons God made it clear who would rule next and the eldest wasn’t the one. I know plenty of men, even in this day and age who put their friends first and they ain’t gay. I am not anti-gay, but just because two men are the best of friends, putting each other first does not necessarily make them gay. I also know a few men who are gay who treat their gay partners like dirt.

  11. kzottarelli says:

    hmmm…where have I heard that term…” very close friends” before when referring to two men?

  12. Vicki says:

    The issue of homosexuality aside, the Bible does not give indication that David and Jonathan or Ruth and Naomi were having “love affairs”. Ruth provided for Naomi and later married Boaz, she loved Naomi as a daughter loves her mother.

    David and Jonathan were very close friends. Only someone who mentally adds a host of speculation would come to the conclusion that they were having an affair.

    • thomsense says:

      You are right, in that the Bible does not give conclusive indication that either David and Jonathan, Naomi and Ruth (Daniel and Ashpenaz, and a few others too!) are gay lovers. But in the case of David and Jonathan, especially…How do you think that David got Jonathan’s throne??

      • KievJoy says:

        Jonathan was as God fearing as David and knew that God had given David the throne. Also in the last battle with Saul, Jonathan was killed. David getting the throne had nothing to do with their love for each other.

      • KievJoy says:

        Jonathan was as God fearing as David and knew that God had given David the throne. Also in the last battle with Saul, Jonathan was killed. David getting the throne had nothing to do with their love for each other.

    • robw77 says:

      Actually, if you read the passages about Jonathan and David, it does not take much speculation at all to see that the affection between them was “more than good friends”. “Having an affair” may be a crass way to describe it, but their intimacy was defined as being greater than “buddies”. David made the point at Jonathan’s death that Jonathan loved him greater than he had loved any woman. Since women were not thought of at the same “friend love” level as equals, he could only have been making reference to a partnering kind of love.
      Also– Kievjoy, David was not in line for the throne… he needed to have Jonathan essentially declare him an intimate to the level of being an heir for him to get it.

      • KievJoy says:

        David was annointed by Samuel at the command of God when he was still a shepherd boy. I think Jonathan knew and accepted it. As for loving David more than a woman, I know plenty of men who put their friends before their wives.

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