The Bible condemns homosexual sex
There will be three rounds. The first round can be used for acceptance or for the opening argument. I would prefer for the challenger to have an understanding of the Bible's words and the context that they are in. I am an Atheist, and do not care what beliefs the challenger holds.
No insults, please. Civilized debate is expected. Thank you!
Leviticus 18:22 specifies 'as with a woman'. In the time which this book was written, women were inferior to men in society. To treat another man as if he were a woman would be the sin. If a man had sex with another man in a way that would not treat him like a woman, the act would not be condemned by this verse.
Likewise, in the story found in Judges 19:16-24, a man was a guest in another man's home. Some strangers kindly asked to rape the guest. The host pleaded with the strangers to not do this saying "No, my brothers, don't do such an evil thing. For this man is a guest in my house, and such a thing would be shameful.". The man then proceeds to let the men rape his daughter (his property) and his guest's girlfriend. This verse reinforces my assertion that it was the gender roles which were not to be violated- not the act of homosexual sex. The verse also implies that it is bad form to let people rape your guest. Additionally, this account is not the direct word of God, nor does it demonstrate a law, but merely tells the story of what happened to a guy who was passing through Gibeah.
I would like my opponent to provide a verse from the bible wherein God (or a legitimate authority representing God) unambiguously proclaims homosexual sex to be universally immoral WITHOUT involving other factors such as gender roles. Once again, women were not seen as equal at this time. The act of treating a man like a woman seems to me to be the sinful element. Because we, in modern times, view women as being equal to men we too often read verses like this and mistake the contextual meaning. When we see "Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin." (Leviticus 18:22) We make the assumption that the sex is the offensive part. It is not. If it were, the verse would simply read "Do not have sex with another man". The sinful part of the act is treating a man like a woman. Leviticus is notable for being absolutely riddled with gender-restricting rules. Verses which people think unambiguously condemn homosexual sex are actually just more rules restricting behavior regarding gender.
In addition, because my opponent did not specify 'homosexual sex' in the body of their initial post, and instead said the word 'homosexuality', I would like my opponent to find any bible verse wherein God (or a legitimate authority representing God) condemns the state of being attracted to the same sex. Being attracted to someone and engaging in the act of sex are two different things. To preemptively rebut Matthew 5:27-28, Being attracted to someone and thinking about having sex with someone are also two different things.
I thank you for your time and look forward to your responses. To re-iterate my expectations, I am wanting my opponent to provide at least two verses- one which condemns homosexual sex specifically and one which condemns homosexuality generally.
Leviticus 20:13 is one of the verses that I will be addressing. It can be considered in a few different ways. One of the most common wordings of the verse is
"If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable."They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."
This is from the New International Version. The New Living Translation, however, translates the verse as
"The penalty for homosexual acts is death to both parties. They have committed a detestable act and are guilty of a capital offense."
We can argue over the semantics of this endlessly. While the second translation is quite blunt, the words used in the first provided interpretation can be understood to mean different things. The most controversial words are definitely "as one does with a woman." One of the potential meanings of this is that a man should not treat a man as he would a woman. I propose a more logical interpretation of these words. "As one does with a woman" has also been commonly interpreted to mean the homosexual equivalent of heterosexual sex. This representation, along with the other translations of the original text, certainly lends credit to the belief that the words originally leaned more toward a condemnation of homosexuality than being related to gender roles.
Another verse to consider is Corinthians 6:9, which reads,
"Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?"Do not be deceived:"Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers"nor men who have sex with men."
This translation is from the New International Version. This verse also leads back to the Bible absolutely neglecting to mention homosexual acts in any context other than circumstances where it is frowned upon.
We must also consider that marriage between two men is not something that Christianity condones anywhere in the Bible, and that the rules about adultery, including sex outside of marriage are strict. Sexual conduct is regulated, and immoral sexual behavior is highly frowned up and in many cases punishable by death.
One of the most important things to remember when reading the Bible is that many stories tell you a lot about what God condones and does not condone. Sometimes this is done without direct quotes from God. When destroying Sodom, God saved Lot because he was a good, moral man. God saved him immediately after he gave up his daughters to be raped in place of the men/angels who were visitors in his house. The sin of stealing (rape of women was, at the time, considered stealing because it decreased the value of the virgin daughters) was apparently less egregious than raping men would have been. In the context, the disdain for these immoral, homosexual acts is clear.
In response to my opponent, I would like to present Exodus 20:17 that states that one shall not covet the belongings or wife of another. This displays the biblical idea that sins committed in the mind are also condemned.
The links I an including are sources and more information on translations and interpretations of the verses that I used to justify my stance in this debate.
I want to thank my opponent for accepting this debate and offering a wonderful argument.
A note on translations
There have been many different translations of the Bible. The original texts which the we used to form the biblical anthology were written in several different languages- and not necessarily in the same language as the original text. For instance, a passage may have been originally written in Hebrew, but the oldest surviving copy of the text would be a Greek translation of a Hebrew text. Consequently, when reading this hypothetical verse, we're reading something which has been translated from Hebrew to Greek to English.
A result of translation is corruption of the original meaning. This problem is compounded with some books, such as genesis, which were passed on by oral tradition for many generations before they were ever written down. To bypass this problem of translations, the formulation of the King James version of the bible consisted of listing out possible translations of a verse, then asking God to divinely inspire a correct translation from the possible options. I believe this is why the King James version is popular with the more fundamentalist elements of Christianity.
With all the possible translations, it is unrealistic to pick a single translation and say "This is the definitive word of God". How then can anyone be absolutely certain about the ambiguous elements of the Bible?
Consider Job. 39:9
"Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib?"-King James Version c.1558
"Will the wild-ox be content to serve thee? Or will he abide by thy crib?"- American Standard c.1995
We ought not pick the verse which seems most reasonable because we would be introducing current cultural bias to the translation. Not very many people believe in unicorns, yet the bible verse has been translated to mention unicorns. Likewise, because we in have been facing Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender issues, we will be tempted to try to find translations of the Bible which could include those issues. In introducing this cultural contamination, we pervert the original meaning of the document.
Before we continue, I would ask you to consider transsexualism and the bible. Transsexual rights is an issue which is emerging in saliency. The religious right have begun to indicate that being transsexual is explicitly against their religion, yet they struggle to find textual meaning .
" If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death ; their blood shall be upon them."-KJV
Using my opponent's citation , I see that out of the thirty or so bibles the website uses to cross-reference, only one version fails to mention the "as with a woman" element. This version is a very recent translation, the New Living Translation, last revised in 2007. Refer to my prior argument about introducing cultural bias. My opponent uses the dubious second translation as being concrete proof, but her translation is the only translation out of around thirty samples which had a significantly different meaning. Ignoring the ASV outlier, the verse includes the 'as with a woman element' and since my opponent has not challenged my argument directly, and indeed seems to agree that women were seen as being property, then my prior argument stants.
The writer, Paul is not clearly speaking as a divine authority. The bible does not state that God or Jesus is dictating the letter. Further, in 1 Corinthians 1:7 the author states that there is an absence of Jesus at the moment. Jesus had, apparently, not been heard from since the resurrection. Paul is acting as the leader of a Church- not as a prophet. It doesn't match the criteria I was looking for. I am prepared to respond to the verse, but I must first ask that you demonstrate that Paul was acting as a legitimate representative of God at the time he wrote the letter.
Gay marriage and homosexuality, generally
The mere fact that God does not mention gay marriage does not mean that god forbids it. The bible does not mandate that men marry either. Furthermore, I have not seen anywhere in the bible where it condemns lesbianism.
Regarding sex outside of marriage, I would like for you to describe God's law regarding the subject. Outside of Corinthians, which you need to establish as being God's law, the only things I can find refer to vague "sexual immorality". What, precisely, is meant by sexual immorality? Does the definition extend to certain books, or is one definition universal across all books of the Bible? Please nail down this aspect of the argument, as I cannot properly address the ambiguity you're presenting.
The story of Sodom makes no reference to homosexuality. The Hebrew word for angel is מַלְאָךְ- which is a neuter noun. The gender elements were introduced when Genesis was translated into Greek- which does not have a neuter word for angel, and instead uses the masculine noun angelos.
Angels, at this early point in the Hebrew faith, are merely automatons of God. Angels are a form of being completely different from the animal kingdom (and, since we're keeping this biblical, mankind as well). The story explicitly deals with some sort of sexual immorality, yes. The story explicitly deals with the way a host should act toward a guest (sending his daughters to be raped. Sound familiar?). The story does not specifically deal with homosexuality. I actually thing bestiality fits better into the story than homosexuality- consider the biblical stance on bestiality (Leviticus 20:15-16 presents a very clear condemnation of bestiality). It is a crime to have sex with a lower order of creature. It is a crime for the person and it is a crime for the beast. An angel is a higher order of creature than man- or at the very least a different order. It would clearly be a sin for both parties for a man to have sex with an angel. The Nephilim are offspring of an angel and a human- and they reviled by God as an abomination.
Now, could you imagine how horrible a crime it would be if God himself impregnated a woman?
I'm being facetious. I apologize, but I couldn't resist. The devil made me do it.
Exodus 20:17 and thought crime
In my opening statement I mentioned Mathew 5:27-28. My intention for this was to speed up the debate process by preemptively dealing with thought crime. My opponent seemed to have missed that aspect of my argument. I agree with my opponent that the bible states in several places that actions committed in the mind are equal to those committed in the body. I will re-iterate my argument from my opening statement: "Being attracted to someone and thinking about having sex with someone are also two different things".
To put it another way, if I find a man attractive, I don't automatically think of having sex with him. I merely find him to be attractive. To be homosexual, in the modern understanding of the word, one must be exclusively attracted to a member of the same gender..
I asked my opponent to provide at least two verses from either God or a legitimate authority representing God- one unabiguously condemning homosexual sex and one unambiguously condemning a homosexual orientation. My opponent did not fulfil this request, so I extend it for the next round. My opponent may choose to refute my arguments against the ones she just presented or she may elect to introduce entirely new ones.
Additionally, I ask that my opponent include female homosexuality in this debate. Thus far, mention has only been made of male homosexuals. In order to demonstrate that the bible is against all homosexuality and homosexual acts, the arguments must apply to both sexes. The debate topic is not about whether male homosexuality condemned by God.
I thank my opponent for a good mental workout. This is my first debate and it's turning out to be a lot more fun than I expected.
When regarding translations of the Bible, we have to understand that there is no translated version of the Bible that is not impacted by cultural bias. Since this debate is done from a Christian standpoint, we must assume that the original text was divinely inspired and is the unquestionable, infallible word of God. All of my arguments have been and will continue to be based on that belief system. Because of these beliefs, most, if not all, religions have developed a system of elders who have been deemed capable of interpreting their respective holy books. These elders are respected for having an elevated relationship with (in this case) God. Their expertise with the material is not to be disregarded by those of us with less knowledge about the faith.
I completely agree with my opponent that we cannot pick a single translation of any verse and decide that they are definitive. In my comparison of the translations, I was attempting to show that all of the possible interpretations must be considered when trying to decide about the implied meaning of the words.
In response to the argument that we should not consider the newer translations of the Bible to be as accurate as the traditional versions, I would say that the process through which Bibles are revised does often purposely attempt to use cultural or current terms and phrases. This makes it easier to understand for contemporary readers. Whereas a young reader of an old translation may be confused by the phrase "as with women," they are apt to understand the term "homosexual." These differences are often not by mistake, but an attempt to make the passages clearer.
This updating process is carried out carefully by biblical scholars. The translators of the New International Version sum this ideal up perfectly by saying,
"When the original Bible documents first emerged, they captured exactly what God wanted to say in the language and idiom of ordinary people. There was no friction between hearing God"s Word the way it was written and understanding it the way it was meant. The original audience experienced a unique fusion of these two ingredients. Readers of the Bible today, however, can no longer experience this fusion. The passage of two thousand years has turned the Greek and Hebrew of Bible times from living languages into historical artifacts. If we had the original documents in our hands today, they would still represent exactly what God wanted to say. But the vast majority of people would no longer be able to understand them."
This principal is shown wonderfully by the verse Job 39:9 that has been presented. When the King James Version was written, reading about unicorns would not have been unheard of, however, when the American Standard version was written the translators understood that their audience would not be able to identify with this wording and changed it accordingly.
I believe that I have sufficiently explained why it is reasonable to look at the differences present in newer revisions of the Bible without disregarding them.
Marriage in General
It is actually suggested in 1 Corinthians 1:7 that it would be better for men not to marry but that they should take wives so that they do not succumb to sexual immorality. Here, the Lord does specifically say that men should take wives if they have sexual desire. It is clearly established in Corinthians that the laws being laid out are in the name of the lord. While I do agree that it is not laid out word for word in this passage that sex outside of marriage is a sin, it is clearly articulated. 1 Corinthians 1:1-15 actually encompasses more than enough information to understand that sex outside of marriage is considered a sin.
1 Corinthians 1:1-6 states
"Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 2But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command."
While it can be argued that this verse and others like it do not mean that sex outside of marriage is a sin, it would be an argument of semantics that went against common sense and the interpretations of generations of biblical scholars.
I would like to reply directly to the argument pertaining to thought crimes. My opponent has stated that finding someone attractive does not necessarily entail that you are sexually attracted to them. I would like to apply common sense to this argument and state that understanding that another human of the same sex is attractive would not constitute a homosexual thought, and thereby does not apply in this argument. A thought crime of homosexuality would be an actual sexual attraction to someone of the same sex.
In response to my opponent's challenge to present two verses that meet their standards of a clear condemnation of homosexual sex and homosexual attractions, I would say that they know that the Bible does not contain these verses and that the determination of these biblical moral standards must be done more delicately, as we do with many of the moral standards accepted by the Christian community. I do concede however, that the Bible does not expressly mention female homosexuality anywhere that I am aware of. Personally, I believe that the passages regarding male homosexuality would apply to females as well, but I do not think that the case is strong enough for that opinion to be supported well and agree that there is very little evidence of a biblical perspective on female homosexuality.
This debate, as stated in my opponent's opening statement, is "(...) to determine if the Bible, taken in context, condemns homosexuality". The stated goal of my opponent in this debate is to show "(...) that anyone who states a sincere belief in the Bible cannot say that they agree that homosexuality is moral in the eyes of God". My opponent has said in Round 2 that she believes "that (one) can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that God condemns homosexual acts, and to a lesser degree, homosexuality in general".
Therefore, my opponent must have shown that it is impossible to honestly interpret the Bible as saying that God sees homosexuality as anything but immoral.
A secondary objective of my opponent is to show that God condemns homosexual sex.
My opponent and I are in agreement that no translation is free from cultural bias and that the ONLY true words of God are found in the original texts of the documents. As most people are not skilled in ancient Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, we must settle for translations. My opponent agrees that the Bible was tailored for the cultures in which the original documents were written. Any attempts to translate cultural meaning will introduce contamination of the true word of God. When reading our translated word of God, it's important to remember it is only a translation and may not mean what the original document intended to say. When different translations disagree, that is an indication of ambiguity. My opponent expressed an intention to provide evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Her textual evidence in this debate has relied on ambiguous passages. Therefore her textual evidence does not conclusively indicate that the bible condemns either homosexuality or homosexual sex.
With regards to my opponent's thoughts on religious elders, I am afraid I must strongly disagree. Even within Christianity, there are sects, such as Quakers, which have no hierarchical structure. My opponent believes that religious are able to reliably interpret the Bible through their close relationship with God. Consider that the Catholic Church endorsed geocentrism until 1820 . The religious elders of the Church, for 1,800 years, believed that the Bible stated that the Earth was the center of the universe. Elders are as subject to mistakes as any other person and are prisoners of their own culture. If we will not consider the opinion of a Church elder in 1600, why should we take a Church elder of 2014 seriously? In the 17th chapter of St. Luke it is written that the kingdom of god is within you- not through an elder or group elders.
Marriage and 1 Corinthians
My opponent did not account for the authority of Paul when he was writing 1 Corinthians. There is no indication that Paul is speaking on behalf of God, and therefore his writings ought not be construed as being the word of God. Paul spent much time with Jesus, but this does not mean that Paul became Jesus or has the same authority. Regardless, I will address the issues which my opponent brought up.
With respect to the assertion that people ought to marry, in 1 Corinthians 1:6 Paul says that this is only a recommendation- it isn't a command. In other words, Paul recommends for men to marry women and vice versa. Paul's recommendation does not in any way imply that all sex outside of marriage is immoral nor that marriage between two men or two women would be immoral- he merely says that marriage is a way to avoid immorality. It is true that the Church has regarded all sex outside of marriage to be a sin, but I've already expressed my opinion about Church elders. I would be interested in continuing this tangent, so feel free to send me a message about it.
Consider, however, that the Catholic Church practices clerical celibacy- they seem to be ignoring Paul's recommendation.
My opponent misrepresented my argument by saying "My opponent has stated that finding someone attractive does not necessarily entail that you are sexually attracted to them". While romantic and sexual attraction are very distinct, I never separated the two concepts.
I will repeat myself: Being homosexual does not mean that you will think about having sex with a member of the same gender. Being homosexual and thinking about having sex (I.E. "lust") are two different things. Moreover, recognizing someone is sexually attractive and fantasizing about having sex with that person are also two different things. Finding someone sexually attractive is akin to an emotion. Thinking about having sex with that person is a conscious thought. It is fallacious to conflate these concepts and consider them all to be 'homosexual'.
However, this entire line of reasoning is flawed because homosexuals do not have a monopoly on having thoughts of sex. Stipulating that thoughts of pre-marital sex and adultery are immoral, then everyone has an equal propensity to commit thought crime- regardless of orientation. My opponent's reasoning basically asserts that all people are sinners (except possibly asexuals). Since this argument is not exclusive to homosexuals, it is beyond the purview of this debate, and therefore irrelevant.
My opponent needed to show that God unambiguously and irrefutably condemns homosexuality. My opponent has conceded that:
1. The Bible makes no mention of female homosexuality.
2.."the Bible does not contain these (unambiguous) verses and that the determination of these biblical moral standards must be done more delicately". Therefore any condemnation of homosexuality must be implicit.
My opponent provided several verses which she believes implicitly condemn homosexuality. I responded by demonstrating the ambiguity of each passage. If every passage interpreted as condemning homosexuality is ambiguous, then it is certainly possible for the Bible to be interpreted as being accepting toward homosexuality. My opponent's thesis that no Bible believing Christian can think homosexuality isn't a sin is therefore refuted.
I hope I have shown that a Christian need not abandon their religious convictions in order to be accepting towards the LGBT community. Jesus said to love thy neighbor, and I hope that intolerance, discrimination, and violence directed at the LGBT community will continue to decrease, that our fallen world may be one step closer to a new Eden.
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