Hermeneutical Issues In The Use Of The Bible To Justify The Acceptance Of Homosexual Practice -- By: Guenther Haas
Hermeneutical Issues In The Use Of The Bible
To Justify The Acceptance Of Homosexual Practice
During the last 30 - 40 years, North American society has gradually come to accept, and provide legal protection for, practicing homosexuals. Parallel to this, there has been a growing number of Christians arguing for the modification of the traditional Christian view on homosexuality. These arguments involve the conclusion that the church should accept adult same-sex relations, usually of a monogamous nature. Since the Bible contains a number of passages where homosexual relations appear to be condemned, this requires new understandings of these passages. My interest in this paper is to examine these new interpretations.
I am not interested in those views of the Bible which simply reject certain biblical prescriptions or prohibitions if they clash with their own understandings.1 Rather, I am interested in those biblical interpretations which claim that an acceptance of the authority of the Bible does not require the conclusion that homosexual relations between adults are wrong. The contention is that such relations are permissible. My paper will examine the arguments that follow this track, giving critical evaluations of them.
It should be noted that most authors use two or more of the following arguments in their explanations of the biblical passages on homosexuality. In my analysis and evaluation, I will examine them individually, categorizing them according to the nature of the arguments.
1. Linguistic Arguments
These arguments deal with specific terms used in biblical texts that have been interpreted to condemn homosexual practice. The contention here usually is that certain terms have been misunderstood and thus mistranslated. It is this misunderstanding that has led to the church’s wrongful condemnation of homosexual practice.
Such arguments are worthy of honest consideration. If misunderstood or mistranslated words are the basis for certain conclusions, then corrections should be made. The proper understanding of words in the Bible is important for our formulation of Christian practice. An obvious example is the current debate over the exact meaning of authentein in I Tim. 2:12 as something that Paul does not permit women to do “over men.” We turn our attention to those arguments that involve the understanding of terms that have led to the traditional condemnation of homosexuality.
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