The debunking of the Clobber Passages has been so effective that anti-homosexual campaigners had to search for more Bible bullets to use against their opponents. Their most recent addition to their arsenal has been the creation of Adam and Eve, which they say is the pattern for human marriage.
So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.”
This argument from the second chapter of Genesis used to be accompanied by stale jokes about Adam and Steve and by plumbing discussions. If we are going to draw lessons from Genesis 2, it becomes a matter of deciding which is the intended lesson.
In all seriousness, my wife wasn’t formed from my rib, so I guess I’m not following the Biblical example? Is that the point?
I didn’t awake from a deep sleep, or a coma, or major surgery, and discover a mysterious woman with whom I was supposed to copulate without the benefit of marriage. Am I not following the Biblical example?
Here is a well-known explanation for what the Adam and Eve story means:
Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to dominate him, neither out of his feet to be trampled by him, but out of his side to be equal with him. Under his arm to be protected by him and near his heart to be loved by him.
Of course I could just as easily say that since woman is derived from man, that man is superior because he was created first. Then I can say no to all that egalitarian and equality stuff. One of Paul’s disciples took that approach:
I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
It’s interesting how we can get contradictory meanings from the same passage of Scripture.
Genesis says that God realized that it was not good for the man to be alone, that he created a helpmate suitable for him (Genesis 2:11). This could prove that white men need white women and that black men need black women. Or it could prove that God created one unique, special woman for every man, and that it is the responsibility of every man to find that one, perfect woman created especially for him. Or it could mean that there are potential mates created for gays and lesbians, mates that are suitable for men who like men and women who like women.
The problem with drawing precise meanings out of a story which provides no precise meanings in itself? Many different meanings can be drawn out of such a story, or read into it, even contradictory meanings. For example, if I take the story of the temptation of Eve, then temptation is meeting a talking snake in a garden who then tries to get you to disobey a direct order from God. I’ve never met a talking snake, so maybe I’ve never been tempted. I did see a talking snake though, in a Harry Potter movie, and I hear Aesop has a good story about a Farmer and a Snake.
Consider the automobile. A Flemish Jesuit missionary named Ferdinand Verbiest is believed by many to have built the first automobile in 1672. It was steam powered, and built in China. Subsequent automobiles range evidence a wide range of designs whose fuels continue to change.
Consider the first time piece. Lost in the mists of history, and in use as early as 5000 and 3500 BCE, the gnomon (sundial) was a vertical post or pillar. The shadow indicated the time of day. Most modern sundials are landscape ornaments. Subsequent time pieces evidence a wide range of designs and materials using springs, batteries, and nuclear power.
And marriage? In the Bible, examples of marriage include unofficiated unions like that of Adam and Eve, the polygamy of Kings David and Solomon (authors of a considerable amount of Scripture and found among the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah), and the quasi-marriages of hundreds of concubines to men who could afford them.
The creation of Adam and Eve is an important story, but it does not prove that one-man-and-one-woman heterosexual unions are the only ones acceptable to God.
You can’t quote Genesis to prove that God rejects homosexual couples.
But these arguments and comparisons will not be persuasive for most evangelicals, and certainly not for fundamentalists. Conservative religion appeals to people who are hard-wired to submit to authority, who respect hierarchy, the chain of command. Your voice or mine are to them the voice of the enemy. They have been innoculated against Scriptural logic and independent thinking. They are taught to distrust themselves and to trust their leaders, who are wiser and better educate than they are. Many don’t want to be bothered with thinking things through; they’d rather just be told what to believe. They’re in their churches for a sense of belonging, security, and safety, and will not put those at risk. And the price of this sense of security and belonging is intellectual freedom. But that freedom doesn’t matter to everyone. That is one of the species of diversity.
I find it amusing, and a little pitiful, that if they find themselves cornered in bibical discussions, fundamentalists will always have another passage to use as “proof.” Most of them believe that if they start a sentence, discussion or argument with, “The Bible says,” then the argument is over and there is no room for rebuttal. Drives me up the wall and may, yet, drive me to drink. 8>)
They’re patterning their conversation after their major model of religious discourse: preaching, sermons, the declaration of truth. Most have never been in an actual conversation about spiritual things, and wouldn’t know what to do if they were.
Of course many of most of us find it difficult to have such conversations at a low decibel level. After a while we just avoid situations where we have to meet them. Not all of us, I’m sure. But I know I left fundamentalism for a reason.
But then there’s always the argument that the doctrine of “sola Scriptura” is not in itself scriptural. 🙂
Absolutely true, Terry. There are so many slogans, so many traditional bromides people offer up to others and live by.
I want to say it’s pitiful, but it’s reality. Reality for virtually every person on the planet. So I can see the limitations of such little slogans, but there are so many that we all live by, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously. Hating our dependence on slogans and shallow thinking is like hating the air we breathe and the water we drink.
An interesting post, Pastor. You already know my opinion about the genesis of Genesis, so I won’t take up your time elaborating again and further, here. Instead, I will point out to those who hate the gay that if ‘WOMAN’ was created to be a ‘helpmeet’ to ‘MAN’, how much more so should a man have been created? A scientific study was just completed recently that showed that our first instinct as a general rule, is to cooperate with each other and that selfish actions (the psychopaths and sociopaths being the exception) require serious amounts of contemplative time.
The ‘Adam and Steve’ argument wore thin for me, I think, halfway through the first time I heard it. Unlike the works of Gleason and Carney, Abott and Costello, et al, it wasn’t even funny once. The original author of the statement appeared to be trying to infuse his hate with wit; subsequent repeaters of it have failed, as did he. Take all else away from Genesis, and it is an origin myth, and nothing more – it is the way early Jews (not a hating statement) conceived the beginnings of the Earth and all therein. The Norse, the Greeks, the Romans, even the Egyptians – all had these, as did all Native American tribes. Pretty much every civilized culture came up with one, and none of them were intended to show a hate. Nowadays we tell ourselves it was a Big Bang, and in truth, for all we really know, it might as well be the Great Basilisk laying the world as an egg, and we had ought to all go in for Rooster Worship.
Now that I’ve successfully irritated the ‘rules lawyers’ out there, let me go on to re-emphasize what I said midway through the previous paragraph: Genesis was NEVER conceived or written to demonstrate a bias or hate on the part of the early Jews. It was simply written to try to explain how the world may have been made. I believe that time will show that this was originally a very SHORT book, and that the bits about Sodom, Lot, and Noah were later added to and compiled on Genesis, along with other bits, from other works that have since all but disappeared from the Earth, in order to a) make Genesis a bit longer, and b) reinforce certain lessons that the Jewish people considered essential to teach their children. In any event, you are correct : One cannot, in GOOD conscience, use or quote Genesis to prove that God hates homosexual couples. You used different, probably more effective and certainly less verbose means to prove that, than I’ve used. Thank you for an excellent article!
There are, obviously, lots of ways of approaching most things, including Genesis. The Adam & Steve quip was catchy and clever, possibly even brilliant if we evaluate its effectiveness as a piece of rhetoric. You know that sacred books have a unique place in their community. Comparing people’s sacred books and stories to similar books in other communities won’t win you many friends.
Personal significance and belonging are critically important to people, at least for those who haven’t despaired of finding them. If believing two or three “ridiculous” things can get you in, and rejecting two or three “evil” things can insure you a place in your community, it’s a good trade. The problem comes when people then use you to oppress others.
In my humble opinion.
Oh, I know, Pastor, I know… But when some fundamentalist gets going on ‘the bible says’, I can’t really resist tapping back. They’re trying for under my skin, I just go right under theirs to the bone if I can. Then I smile as sweetly as I can (yes, it really DOES look almost angelic).
I agree about the belonging. But nowadays organized religions are behaving increasingly like the cults of the seventies and eighties – and tying an ‘us vs. them’ mentality into it for good measure.
Yes, the political polarization is making things very cultic, unnecessarily us vs. them, black and white.
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Exactly. Anyone interesting in understanding the Kabbalah, will quickly find that the entire Torah, Tanakh, and New Testament are metaphors for the “desire to give”, and “the desire to recieve”. It has absolutely no literal meaning at all. It doesn’t even mean male, or female humans. It is entirely about a spiritual being, living in a physical body with an ego, overcoming the desire to recieve (anything) for the ego alone. In modern times, had the Kabbalah been invented in this age, such terms as male and female would not even apply. Physics models would be used, but we must take into account the time. Sexual metaphors, such as the male and female- positive and negative (remember a magnet?) make up the one Androgynous being that was Adam-Kadmon. In the Kabbalah it is understood that Eve wasnt taken from the rib of man but that the origianl archtype Adam Ha-Rishon was divived into two. That the orignal supernal pattern was that male and female were combined, LIKE THE SUPERNAL PATTERN OF GOD-BEING BOTH A MOTHER AND FATHER! One Be-ing. So the whole back and forth they use about male and female are baseless, fundamentalist garbage. What the whole male/female metaphor means is, overcoming the ego, the serpent, so that we can come back to our orignal state, The Self, as it is often called in many Religions, Buddhism, etc….and to instead live with the desire that is our true authentic being that is a combination of male and female aspects. Ever met a girl who loves football and grilling? Sure right? What if she was also a super mom? Isnt that being authentic to whom she really is? Aren’t we all a vast collection of various traits that make up who we are, some being masculine, others feminine?
What if we were like “LITTLE CHILDREN” as Jesus said, to inherit heaven? I would draw attention, that being like a little child doesnt mean to be child like, though that too is implied in “a way”, it instead means to live authentic to yourself, and like a child, who has no sexuality yet because of puberty, to live without attachment or aversion. Not to say we shouldn’t have a partner, no not at all! Instead to live and be US. Not who or what our family, or society has inflicted upon our ego, and what is so strives to project. It projects who you want people to see you as, not as WHO YOU REALLY ARE! So for anyone well versed in the Judaic mystical interpretations, or another Kabbalistic, Qabbalistic, or Cabbalistic (One is Christian, another Pagan leaning thus the different spellings) interpretations on the INNER meaning of the Bible, one can draw out from them the true esoteric meaning. Thats not magic, ya know. That’s using your MIND! God is a Conciousness that is beyond gender roles, or even physical dealings at all. After all, it is THE HEART that God see’s and that alone! It isn’t an act, it is the Intention of the act that determines its qualities. It is the ego who punishes us, not God, and God doesn’t care WHO YOU LOVE…..just that YOU DO!
That’s an important topic, how to be authentic, how to live authentically. Thanks for sharing these esoteric insights, Kyle.
Adam before eve was both male and female 🙂 at least according to the consensus of esoteric considerations. and the metaphorical nature of the Law and Torah was explicitly stated by St. Paul [why do none of the literalists believe St. Paul literally?]
slave boy? Does the bible approve of adults having romantic relationships with children? I agree that the whole “Steve” argument is reading into what is written, but I really think that assuming that the centurion’s love and concern for his slave was sexual or romantic is doing the same thing. Is there proof to support that characterization? I would like to see it. And for the record, I am not trying to start trouble. I am simply frustrated with the Christian community at the moment. The “Steve ” comment is obviously not scriptural but something someone decided and grab some scripture to try and lend some legitamacy to it, but how is the reference to the centurion and his slave any different? I do not understand how anyone taking the bible for what it says can conclude that the relationships between Ruth and Naomi or David and Johnathon were homosexual unions as opposed to deep friendships. It distresses me when people that i expect to express Christianity away from the tactics of the socalled right end up employing the same tactics using cherry-picked paraphrased references to support what each person wants to be the truth. What a mess!
Paul explicitly state that the Torah is metaphor in his discussion of the ox. muzzling of the ox is a metaphor he says. jesus also says it’s metaphorical. or hints it is, in talking about our being gods…
i am curious. the overall attitude of torah, the prophets and the writings strongly assertedly at length approve of strong same gender relationships. david and jonathan. ruth and naomi. and the sodom and gomorra story is so clearly about over macho [stereotypical heterosexual] male entitlement. why do liberal christians focus down on the very same irrelevant cherry picked passages. well part of the reason would be 19th century liberal scholarly homophobia was so virulent same sex love and friendship were virtually erased from classical literature. until the 2nd half of the 20th century. but since the 50s there seems no real effort to put forward the scriptural basis for a positive view of gay people. jesus explicitly says most gay people are born gay and some are gay for god’s sake. eunuch did not ever mean emasculated in koine greek. it meant household servant. literally and was a euphemism like gay is today, a word with no precise meaning used to cover a range of matters. [gay means not straight, but little more.]
also the two words used in leviticus are two unrelated words in hebrew one of which refers to someone with apparent householder status, the other someone not with householder status. the rule also is a euphemism which does not indicate coitus. but does indicate married status of the householder male. only the most twisted distortion of the text can squeeze out same sex relations per se. what it means precisely is unknowable since it is a legalism referring to unknowable legal contract law of a time at least 3 thousand years ago. middle eastern law including hellenistic and latin law gives penetration rights to householders, not to workers employees foreigners slaves etc. homosexuality has no legal place in hebrew scripture. IT IS AN ANOMALY. treating any discussion of homosexuality in scripture makes about as much sense as reading quantum mechanics, mayan history or chocolate mousse into it. just as no mention in scripture applies to tomatoes maise chocolate or the amazon river exists in leviticus, not mention of the Chevrolet Volt or Big Sur or Hawaii either.
the same applies to st paul. he does not address or mention or refer to homosexuality or gay relations.
there seems no interest in anthropologically sound historically relevant translations of leviticus or of paul. theologically driven provenly unsound translations based on centuries of interpretations unrelated to the original writings. this is something i don’t understand. we know st paul could not have been talking about something which did not exist in his mind [such as midieval natural law] and refuse to talk about what probably was in his mind such as the idea of excess and of norm. a married heterosexual male running after male prostitutes probably was in his mind excessive. out of normal healthy bounds. two men or two women loving each other probably was not excessive, as his writings seem to give evidence to.
the overwhelming scriptural evidence is that not only does scripture NOT condemn gay people. it seems to approve of them wholeheartedly. considering the degree to which the scriptures names so many of us in such positive light such as the centurion who loved his slave boy. whose faith exceeded all of israel and all of palestine.
Well and let’s also not forget that in Genesis 1 there “let us make man in our image” and in Genesis 2 the man “Adam” is being formed up from the dust of the ground. That man formed from the dust of the ground is the one that so many refer to in their determinations about “marriage”. So is the “image and likeness of God” formed from the dust of the ground? Someone might consider backing up and paying a lot more careful attention to what Genesis 1 says before moving over to Genesis 2… about marriage and a lot more!!
Yup, there’s a lot there!
what dust? what’s in dust. i think the word is not dust actually. it’s ambiguous. just before god brings water onto the earth. literally what is this earth. everything in dust and earth as we know it today is a product of 4 million years of cellular activity. organic dust. unlike moon dust which is inorganic. the specific word means ashes, earth. not moon dust. but soil. organic matter. quite literally not inorganic matter. but quite literally organic matter. because there are other words in hebrew which refer to inorganic dry dust.
Here is a post from my blog about using the brain God gave you. I list it in response to your description of most evangelicals who would rather listen to their leader/pastor rather than make up their own mind. Thank you for this post.
Saying “You can’t use Genesis to prove”…something about gays is something like saying “You can’t use the Magna Carta to prove” … something about Thomas Jefferson. It’s an anachronism and most folks wouldn’t ever try it. What about Romans?
Note: I’m actually NOT for using the Bible to whup on gay folk but neither am I for speaking illogically or irreverently about the Bible nor for ignoring what it actually does say.
Sorry Tom, but anti-homosexual conservatives use this argument a lot. I may not use the argument use, but I don’t think we disagree all that much. I’m responding to people who use Genesis for the very purpose you say is illegitimate. Every reference to “Adam and Eve” and “Adam and Steve” is predicated on Genesis 2.
Regarding Romans: I’ve posted on Romans at least twice:
Actually, Tom, NONE of Genesis has anything to do with gay people. Even if you look at the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah, you’re stuck with the fact that Lots visitors did not, in fact, alter themselves to look like men, but to appear as YOUTHS. The people of Sodom were not homosexuals, but rapists and pedophiles.
“pray4me on December 15, 2012 at 11:26 am said” there is a long well documented culture of rome and of the roman army. jesus did not say he approved of the relationship. jesus praised the faith. but the relationship would be clear to any person at all familiar with the life of a roman officer in the field. it is not cherry picking but given in context. based on extensive knowledge developed by classicists of how people ran their lives. extensive literature unrelated to bible controversy exists. in the context of that culture, any other presumption would be difficult if impossible. there was no possible way a high ranking officer in the army could be “friends” with any slave of any rank. the only possible relationship could be eromenos. in context. high ranking officers did not socialize with slaves. he would have been hounded out of office as a threat to the emperor. there is a lot of context which the gospel assumes. if there were another possibility besides the one everyone would recognize instantly, it would have been noted. it is the only conceivable relationship. under the laws and culture and military rules of that time and that place.
You have a totally one-sided picture of sexual companions in the ancient military. Apparently the military of ancient Greek city-states had different policies about same-sex companionship on the battlefield, with some writers favoring it, others disapproving.
Slaves, going all the way back to Joseph in Egypt, could hold offices of greats responsibility, and have friends in high places. So your prattle about what is impossible for officers and slaves to do is silly.
If you are going to make such categorical statement about situations about military habits thousands of years old, you’d sure better cite some sources. Otherwise, you’re just spouting your opinions and giving them off as facts.
To begin with, check out wikipedia.
Regarding the Centurion and his special sexual companion: Jesus didn’t say “Go and sin no more.”
“Here is a well-known explanation for what the Adam and Eve story means:
Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to dominate him, neither out of his feet to be trampled by him, but out of his side to be equal with him. Under his arm to be protected by him and near his heart to be loved by him.”
On what basis is this a “well known explanation” and how can you prove this was the intended interpretation of the passage?
“Genesis says that God realized that it was not good for the man to be alone, that he created a helpmate suitable for him (Genesis 2:11). This could prove that white men need white women and that black men need black women. Or it could prove that God created one unique, special woman for every man, and that it is the responsibility of every man to find that one, perfect woman created especially for him.”
Can you expound on this? The passage clearly never addresses color/race nor specifies uniqueness of the individual but does address gender. Of course you can go into interpretation from their but I think you’re example is not that strong of an argument.
The issue I have with your whole article is that you’re making these “arguments” with Genesis taken out of context. Place Genesis in the context of other verses that address homosexuality and you have a stronger argument.
Thank you for your comments.
Thanks especially for drawing attention to the kind of word that begs for interpretation and is the cause of countless debates: a helpmate suitable for him. Suitability is an extremely subjective word. It’s like worldly. So terribly subjective, completely at the mercy of the interpreter. Men have built huge, walled-off communities based on insisting on what qualifies as worldly, and what does not.
It strikes me as odd, your request for “proof” that the “well known explanation” I quoted is the “intended interpretation of the passage.” My assumption is that every passage of scripture is open to multiple interpretations. If this were not the case, if every Bible verse clearly had only one interpretation, then pastors, theology professors, and lots of Christian publishing houses would be totally fraudulent!
Proof? Don’t be silly, Snuggles. Asking for proof of the “intended interpretation” of a Bible verse? Please.
If you are sincere in wanting to look at the context of the Genesis Creation Myth, then you might want to read a recent post by Jonathan Burke, Genesis 1-11 was written during the Babylonian exile. Burke’s article is an excellent introduction to the well-established description of the date and provenance of Genesis 1-11.
Good luck and God bless!