“This is pretty much everything the bible has to say about gay stuff…” is how I started the last 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