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|"22:28 If a man find a damsel [that is] a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; 22:29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty [shekels] of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days. 22:30 A man shall not take his father's wife, nor discover his father's skirt. " - Deuteronomy 22:28-30|
Actually, no. This passage is not refering to rape. Even though the verse "appears" like it may say this in English, if you look at the original hebrew word for "lay hold" you discover its usage and meaning within the Old Testament.
The word "lay hold" is used in several Old Testament passages that refer to consentual situations. Here is the Hebrew definitions for the two words that represent "lay hold":
Orig: a primitive root; to manipulate, i.e. seize; chiefly to capture, wield, specifically, to overlay; figuratively, to use unwarrantably:--catch, handle, (lay, take) hold (on, over), stop, X surely, surprise, take.
Use: TWOT-2538 Verb
1a1) to lay hold of, seize, arrest, catch
1a2) to grasp (in order to) wield, wield, use skilfully
1b) (Niphal) to be seized, be arrested, be caught, be taken, captured
1c) (Piel) to catch, grasp (with the hands)
Here are three examples of how this word is used:
|"Shall have slept with another man, and her husband cannot discover it, but the adultery is secret, and cannot be proved by witnesses, because she was not found (taken) in the adultery " - Numbers 5:13|
|"9:17 And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes. " - Deuteronomy 9:17|
|"4:21 And his brother's name [was] Jubal: he was the father of all such as handle the harp and organ. " - Genesis 4:21|
You can see, there is a wide variety of applications of this word and you can not assume it means force, particularly considering the fact that when rape is mentioned in other passages, different words are used in hebrew.
I believe the main gist of the word is to "manipulate" or "orchastrate" when it is refering to something in secular life. In military application it means to seize or take (like in taking a city), however, as you can see in the overall application, I think the word "orchastrate" fits best overall (considering books, music, women and war altogether). In other words, the man "pulled out his bag of tricks" to get the girl to have sex with him. It was consentual, yet, she was manipulated with promises or whatever into having sex with him.
Orig: a primitive root; to lie down (for rest, sexual connection, decease or any other purpose):--X at all, cast down, ((lover-))lay (self) (down), (make to) lie (down, down to sleep, still with), lodge, ravish, take rest, sleep, stay.
Use: TWOT-2381 Verb
1a1) to lie, lie down, lie on
1a2) to lodge
1a3) to lie (of sexual relations)
1a4) to lie down (in death)
1a5) to rest, relax (fig)
1b) (Niphal) to be lain with (sexually)
1c) (Pual) to be lain with (sexually)
1d) (Hiphil) to make to lie down
1e) (Hophal) to be laid
Here is an example of how this second word is used:
|" 5:12 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man's wife go aside, and commit a trespass against him, 5:13 And a man lie with her carnally, and it be hid from the eyes of her husband, and be kept close, and she be defiled, and [there be] no witness against her, neither she be taken [with the manner]; " - Numbers 5:12-13|
So, the scripture above is refering to men who "manipulate" women with words into consentual sex. For men who do such things to a virgin (who is still living with her father), they are required to marry her and pay the dowry (to honor parents). Further, I believe because of this manipulating a situation to have sex, they are not allowed to divorce her all the days of their life (sort of as a punishment). Consider a man who is promising the girl the world or telling her whatever to get her into bed, this I believe is what it is actually going on in this passage.
God's Law does illustrate the manner in which to dicipher between rape and manipulation. In the event the maiden screams, it would mean, he is attempting to rape her. This is what God's Law uses to identify the difference. And in the case of rape, the man would be killed for his sin, as is made known by Jonadab when he gave council to King David regarding the death of his son Amnon, who forced himself onto his half sister. - "2 Samuel 13:14-33". As Jonadab said, "for by the appointment of Absalom this hath been determined from the day that he forced his sister Tamar." and in capter 14, verse 33, we see that King David kissed Absalom (who killed David's son, Amnon) and allowed him to live within the land again.
Further, the passage declares that they were "found out" in the words "they be found". This implies that they were both hiding something or not wanting this matter to be discovered. Or atleast, were not freely telling everyone. So, it indicates guilt of both parties in the matter. It was not one man forcing a woman to have sex, against her will.
So, verse 26 and verse 28 are used as a contrast to each other. In verse 26, it is talking about rape. In verse 28, it is talking about manipulation. So, God is contrasting, so people do not confuse the two. And, the fact that different hebrew words are used for "force" in verse 26 and "lay hold" in verse 28, proves that it is refering to a different type of situation. Some versions of the Bible like the CEV do a better job of translating this passage into English.
Last, if you look at Deuteronomy 22:26, you discover God's viewpoint on rape. He says in the passage that rape is equivelant to murder:
|"22:25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: 22:26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; [there is] in the damsel no sin [worthy] of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so [is] this matter: " - Deuteronomy 22:25-26|
So, God considers rape equal to murder or rising up against your fellow man.
2. What does God think of the gay lifestyle and lesbianism? Is it a sinful lifestyle?
Upon closer inspection of the scriptures, I have come to a viewpoint that is not on either extreme with regards to this topic. I believe it is actually possible to make arguments on either extreme (conservative - liberal), but neither seem to measure up to what scripture actually says.
With regards to marriage, it is quite simple. God designs the marriage structure within Mosaic Law. Two types of marriage covenants are acceptable within God's Law: monogamy and polygamy. So, I believe it is entirely clear, that God's design does not permit for gay or lesbian marriage. Now monogamy was the original design within the Garden of Eden, however, due to the entrance of sin, polygamy was another permitted form of marriage in Mosaic Law.
So, is it a sin to be gay or lesbian? Lets briefly view both sides of the debate:
The Liberal Viewpoint ~
Of the many arguments I have heard using scripture, I will just share the strongest one that they present:
The usage of two Hebrew words in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 -
|"18:22 Thou shalt not lie 7901 8799 with mankind 2145, as with 4904 womankind 802: it [is] abomination 8441. " - Leviticus 18:22|
|"20:13 If a man 376 also lie 7901 8799 with mankind 2145, as he lieth 4904 with a woman 802, both 8147 of them have committed 6213 8804 an abomination 8441: they shall surely 4191 8800 be put to death 4191 8714; their blood 1818 [shall be] upon them. " - Leviticus 20:13|
If you just hastily click on the strong's words, it appears to be very black and white.. Men can not have sex with men. However, a few odd things to note regarding these passages.
First, the word for "mankind" is used most of the time throughout scripture in the context of religious activity. The word likely should be "malekind", rather than mankind, as it also includes male animals. The word is often used in context with such things as: male circumcision, a male beast being offered as a sacrifice, male sons of priests, etc. The odd thing is, the word is almost always used in context of some sort of religious activities. So, the question is, is it refering to "males in religious settings"?
To see all the verses where the word is used, click here.
Second, in the verse(18:21) right before this verse, it is talking about not sacrificing children to Molech, a false god of that time. Considering the odd word usage in my first point above, the fact that gay sex was used in the worship of Molech, and considering this mention of not offering your children to Molech in verse 21, it seems like circumstancial evidence is mounting towards "gay idol prostitution". So, utilizing this circumstancial evidence, we would read the passage in Leviticus 18:22 to say, "Thou shalt not lie with malekind as part of religious ceremony, it is an abomination"
Third, the term for "abomination" in the text also seems to be most often used for God's condemnation of idolatry.
To see all the verses where "abomination" is used, click here.
Considering these circumstancial evidences, we can not so easily dismiss the idea of gay temple prostitution. As it was common in those times, and seems like it could be what is being discussed here. Further, Romans 1 is set in Rome, where castrated priests were used in the worship of Cybele via anal sex. Much of what Paul says in Romans 1, describes this worship process and gay anal sex was part of the worship, very much the same as the worship of Molech in the Old Testament. So, again, it is refering to gay temple sex, not standard gay activity.
Further, Jesus mentions homosexuals as "naturally born eunuchs" in Matthew 19:10-12, as the term "naturally born eunuchs" in other texts around the same time directly refered to gay people. So, Jesus says they are born this way (not desiring a woman, hence desiring often a man) and that would indicate God created them that way. Since God is just, he would not create someone for damnation, as we are judged by our acts, not our design.
Regarding lesbianism, the only passage of scripture that conservatives claim is discussing lesbian sex is Romans 1:26. However, there are a few assumptions involved. First, the assumpion is the term "likewise" is refering to same sex sexual relations and that the term "against nature" by default means this. However, using only scripture, if we seek a place within the Old Testament where lesbianism is condemned, we myseriously find none. Matter of fact, it is not mentioned in either Leviticus 18 or 20 or any other verse of the Old Testament for that matter.. And if we apply scripture upon scripture, we would have to conclude that the term "against nature" is refering to sex with animals, as that is the only command mentioned within the Old Testament regarding women, that would be "against nature". Further, looking at Leviticus 18:17, we see God saying, "Thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of a woman and her daughter". Why would God even say this, if it was a sin for two women to be with one man, in general? And if two women can be with one man, sexually, why not two women alone? Therefore, women having sex with women is not condemned in scripture.
The Conservative Viewpoint ~
On the conservative side, first, we should point out, that the Liberal Viewpoint argument above is circumstancial evidence, which is a "maybe" not a solid proof.
Regarding all the other arguments presented by gay apologists (David and Jonathan's relationship, etc), I dismantle most all of them here. I should also note, that I also dismantle many conservative arguments there as well (Sodom Account, Deuteronomy 23:17-18, etc).
To counter this circumstancial evidence surrounding Leviticus 18, we look to Romans 1.
First, note that the Liberal Viewpoint did not prove that it has to be refering to temple prositution. So, it could be focused on temple prostitution, yet also include gay sex in general as sinful or atleast in error (Leviticus 20:13 in context, never mentions Molech, and says gay sex in general is a sin). Now, looking at Romans 1, we see Paul discussing same-sex sexual activity. Again, we see the pattern of people rejecting the Creator and worshipping the creature, rather than the Creator. It appears to be a generalized account of man's fallen state. From there, we note, that gay sex (in verse 1:26-27) seems to be a by-product of worshipping or seeking the creature more than the Creator. So then, gay sex is a deviation or error that is a byproduct of man's fallen state. This is how it appears Paul is arguing the point.
The point is, whether or not this is discussing temple prostitution or just normal general fallen nature activity, it makes it very clear in verse 1:26-27, "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: 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 recompence of their error which was meet."
So, gay sexual desire would be a vile affection according to this verse. Whether or not Leviticus is talking directly about standard gay sex. This would ellude to the design of the process in which one gains such desire. Meaning, it is part of the process of sin, and that should be enough to make it clear, what God thinks of the activity.
Further, even if you can conclude that Leviticus 18:22 was focusing on people doing gay sex unto idols, the fact is Leviticus 20:13 has no mention of Molech or any idols in the context of the passage. As it clearly starts declaring God's statues starting at verse 8 and ending at verse 22. We see that man lying with man is prohibited here, but without any mention of Molech or any oddities, like you can demonstrate in Leviticus 18:22.
Regarding lesbianism, it says "likewise", which means "and in the same way". So, it follows that lesbianism is included with gay sex as being "unseemly" and a "vile affection". Even though it is the only verse in the Bible, we can glean from this the mind of God.
Other Factors To Consider ~
Romans 1 is more complex than it first appears. As sexual identity concepts were different in Paul's time when compared to today. And considering his statements in the culture he lived, it is possible that the terms "against nature" could refer to the active and passive roles of men and women, respectively. As there was a lot of gender twisting between the roles of males and females in the temple worship of Cybele, Innana, Ishtar, etc (which all seem to have the same roots from practically the beginning of time). To give you an idea, we are talking castrated male priests whom men had sex with (role reversal) and women priestess who would have only anal sex to avoid pregnancy (with many men) as a service to a false god. This is why some of the early church fathers said it was refering to anal sex, rather than lesbianism, being the sin or error. The question is, does "against nature" refer to all gay desire? Also, is anal sex for women a sin? One thing to consider is nature has the vagina for sex, not the anal cavity, and there is a lot of health risk surrounding anal sex.
Another factor is that Romans 1 is possibly refering to heterosexuals that are forced or cohersed by society to practice homosexual acts, often to desensitize, control or humble. Sometimes it is combined with the practice of the occult, witchcraft or idolatry as well. This viewpoint at first seems to not be that relevant, but the more you think about it, the more you realize its potential merit. Consider what the Didache (First Christian Handbook) mentions regarding sexual sins to avoid: "You shall not commit adultery; you shall not commit pederasty (sex with boys)." - Didache (c. 80-140, E), 7.377 . How does this relate? Consider it an abusive form of homosexuality, where they are controlling and humbling boys. Consider also this interesting tidbit about Hitler's Youth regarding which form of homosexuality was accepted and which kind was condemned: " In his book, 'The Pink Swastika,' Lively exposes a secret homosexual activists don't want you to know about Nazi Germany: that although the Nazis did persecute homosexuals, the homosexuals the Nazis persecuted were almost exclusively the effeminate members of the gay community in Germany, and that much of the mistreatment was administered by masculine homosexuals who despised effeminacy in all its forms." - Truth about homosexuality and Nazi Party. So, those who were actual homosexuals were thrown in concentration camps, while those who were forced or cohersed into homosexuality become male predators burning with lust and desiring to control and abuse men and boys. Another factor to consider is the heavy use of occultism in the Nazi Party and Hitler's Youth. Meaning, the Bible seems to point to these activities as evil when it comes to the homosexuality topic:
The fact is, we need to discern between those who are a natural born as a homosexual and those that are actually heterosexual who were either forced or cohersed into homosexuality or they themselves force or coherse others into homosexuality. Further, we need to discern between normal sex and any type of sexuality that includes paganism, idolatry or occultism. Last, we need to discern between something as benign as a temperate effeminate homosexual and one that is brutal, rapes boys or other men (with potentially other physical forms of abuse) for pleasure.
So, I can not strictly pass judgement on someone like Jennifer Knapp, a famous Christian singer, who recently went public that she is a lesbian. As bisexuality/polygamy is one of God's designs and would imply or complement woman's sexual desire for women. And I believe this is where God's design is to be implemented for those women who have sexual desire for women. There is a huge difference between a woman who has an attraction to the same sex, and a woman who likes to sexually abuse children and control people through use of sexual rape and abuse. On the former, one can not find really any scriptural backing (if one is honest with early interpretations of Romans 1). On the latter, you can find a great deal of scriptural backing against such a sin.
Regarding gay and lesbian statistics, at first, I was very shocked to see the mortality rate of gays and lesbians. They die often 20+ years earlier than their heterosexual counterparts. Further, they have much more physical and mental problems than the average heterosexual. However, there was one thing I noticed, which I believe escapes the eyes of many conservatives on this topic. It appears that heterosexuals are known for deriding and treating homosexuals badly within schools and the home. This to me, atleast partially proves that the mortality rate statistics could be a result of abuse on the part of heterosexuals towards homosexuals. Part, but not all, as the sexual activity of many homosexuals is out of control, as many admit to having 100's of partners in their lifetime, while most heterosexuals have on average 8 partners within their lifetime. This shows the instability and error, as they are seeking many sexual partners (burning with lust), rather than having stability and one partner. So, is it possible that some men are born eunuchs/gay (as Jesus said), but then are not permitted to have anal sex (or atleast celibate in this respect and avoiding lust)? An odd theory, but seems to fit the Bible better than either the conservative or liberal arguments. And with those who have lesbian tendencies, could it be the lack of stability in a female-female relationship, whereas polygyny would be their right place (then having stability of a male) so as to extend the life of the woman (or is a lot of it from discrimination of others or abuse at the hands of men)? These are just theories, where I am trying to make sense of scripture, medical data and God's natural design, all in harmony.
I could just tow the line and declare anything outside of normal monogamy as a sin, but I believe that is just self-serving, more than being honest with scripture.
For more in depth study, see these articles here:
3. Does God condone slavery? Are slave owners sinning by owning slaves?
Here is another difficult subject in scripture, in which closer inspection of the biblical text is required.
To put it simply, bondservants were part of the family structure, as outlined within the five books of Moses. A bondservant is a person who is bound by some debt to another person and is his servant. It had nothing to do with slavery as seen in 18th - 20th Centuries, inferiority, racism or oppression.
Regarding slavery as seen in recent centuries, the person is property of another person, without rights and often treated harshly and looked at as inferior, not even human or sub-human. So, in the definitions of these words, we see the main difference is in the treatment and rights of the servant.
Oppression, racism and harsh treatment are not permitted by God. This can be clearly seen in the account of the Israelites being set free from slavery within Egypt. Or by the one of the two main commandments found throughout the Old and New Testament, namely, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself".
Well, who is your neighbor? Is a servant or slave your neighbor? Here is Jesus' answer from Luke 10:
|" 29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30 And Jesus answering said, A certain [man] went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded [him], and departed, leaving [him] half dead. 31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked [on him], and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion [on him], 34 And went to [him], and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave [them] to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise." - Luke 10:29-37|
So, everyone is your neighbor, including those oppressed or looked down on by society.
Further, we find God's mind regarding servant oppression in these passages below:
|" 24:14 Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant [that is] poor and needy, [whether he be] of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that [are] in thy land within thy gates: 24:15 At his day thou shalt give [him] his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he [is] poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee. 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. 24:17 Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, [nor] of the fatherless; nor take a widow's raiment to pledge: 24:18 But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing. 24:19 When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. 24:20 When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. 24:21 When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean [it] afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. 24:22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing. " - Deuteronomy 24:14-22|
We can see here, God loves those who are oppressed and downtrodden. He commands the Israelites to leave some of their crop within the field for those who are poor, destitute and not to oppress the stranger (only strangers could be made into bond-servants in the Old Testament). So, God defends and helps those who are enslaved, oppressed and downtrodden. One can easily make an argument that God set free those who were slaves within America as well, by understanding the mind of God in these passages.
|" 7:9 Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother: 7:10 And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart. 7:11 But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear. 7:12 Yea, they made their hearts [as] an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts. 7:13 Therefore it is come to pass, [that] as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts: 7:14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate. " - Zechariah 7:9-14|
God takes account for the sins of those who oppress and defends those, who have no one to defend them. And God exacts punishment, after waiting patiently for those who oppress to repent, as can be seen in the above passage.
We can see God's mind in even more detail within the New Testament, as with the contrast between being a bondservant to sin, compared with being a bondservant of Christ. Whom shall ye serve? God or money (Lk 6:13)? Which one will enslave you with harsh treatment? Do you like waking up everyday having to work to pay those bills? Is your mind set to worry when focused always on money? Who do you want to serve? As Jesus said His yoke is easy and his burden is light.
So, we are treat one another as Christ treated us. With love and humility. As we can see in Philemon, Paul tells Philemon to receive Onesimus back "no longer a slave". So, Onesimus ran away from Philemon, potentially because of some bad blood between him and his master. But now, Paul sends him back to Philemon, no longer as a servant, but as a beloved brother in Christ.
This makes it clear, that Christians are not to be bound unto man's law. Two other passages echo this voice:
|"24 And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute [money] came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? 25 He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? 26 Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. 27 Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. " - Matthew 17:24-27|
|"20 Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. 21 Art thou called [being] a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use [it] rather. 22 For he that is called in the Lord, [being] a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, [being] free, is Christ's servant." - 1 Corinthians 7:20-22|
It is clear, when you are a child of God, you are free, as Jesus said above. Therefore, God's children are not subject to man made authority of any sort, lest to offend only. As we are to live peaceably with all men.
So, the Bible takes a peaceful revolution approach against slavery, rather than a militant approach. It does not promote slavery, but rather, seeks to work with the worlds standard and change people from the inside out to set people free.