Hebrew Grammar and HebrewGrammer1_image001.gif

This section is provided as a supplement to the discussions above involving Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13.

Traditional Reading

It is interesting to note that even the traditional English translation and interpretation of this verse is not quite the literal. Traditionally, heterosexist bible translators have presumed to translate the whole phrase, "lyings of/with woman" or "ones-lying-with woman", as a direct object noun. But, it is worth mentioning that they choose to insert "with" (rather than "of") indicating association rather than possession. That is, they parse the literal verse as, "With man, you shall not lie lyings (performed) with woman..." And, from this, they translate into English,

"You shall not lie with man as with woman...”

The English phrase "as with woman" is vague, and it is not clear whether they mean "the lying done with woman" or "belonging to/done by women". The Hebrew euphemism of "lying" means penetrative, sexual intercourse (according to Talmudic commentary). So, this is more likely to be the lying done by a man to a woman.


The English phrase suffers from some ambiguity that reveals the ambiguity in the actual Hebrew. Two questions are,

1.      Who is the actor associated with the ambiguous phrase "as with woman"? As who with woman?

2.      What happened to the word "lyings" in the phrase? It has been omitted. That is, one asked the question, as who does what with woman? The what is surely "lyings", but its omission only serves to draw the reader away from the nature of the original text.

The ambiguity primarily lies with the who. The reader is left to interpret even the English verse:


"You shall not lie with man as you lie with woman..."

"You shall not lie with man as one lies with woman..."

"You shall not lie with man as we lie with woman..."


The solution chosen has a significant effect on the meaning, since if the word "you" speaks to the reader, how each reader lies with a woman will be different. Consequently, the meaning each reader gets is personal and different: Practicing homosexual men would not lie with women sexually at all. Non-practicing homosexual men who in reality actually are attracted to men, but who do lie sexually with women, do so in a guise of deceit to the woman. Finally, to heterosexual men, it would have its commonly interpreted meaning.

In all cases above, the meaning of the English word, "as" also inserts ambiguity. Does it mean "like", or does it mean "while"? Which is chosen will, of course, change the meaning of the whole verse.

Since there is an ambiguity, we really ought to look at the original Hebrew wording. Though we will find a slightly different one there.

New Reading

With all this said, the question remains, how else can the verse be translated? The traditional translation represents the Hebrew "lyings-with woman" as "as with woman". What form of the verb should we use for (mishk'vey)? As with the traditional reading, the gerund or participle form ("lyings-with" or "ones-who-lie-with") (which turns the verb into a noun or adjective) seems to be the most popular. Further, reading it as "lyings-with" seems to be more common despite the fact that Kohlenberger treats the word as a participle "ones-lying-with", in 18:22. Ironically, although it is the traditional reading used, that reading is just as easily used in a gay-tolerant manner (though either can work).

The phrase "lyings-with woman", can easily be read as a adjective phrase describing either the man being laid with, or the man doing the lying (the "you"). It refers to a man who has lyings with women, a man of lyings with woman, a man of woman-lyings, a sleeper-of-woman, which in modern terms is a practicing heterosexual man. Literally, Lev 18:22 is,

Lev 18:22


"And male not you-lie-with lyings-with woman, detestable it-is."


So, it could be read as any of the following,

·         "And you shall not lie with man lyings-with woman, it is detestable."

·         "And you shall not lie with man, you who has lyings with woman..."

·         "And you shall not lie with man, you who lies with woman..."

·         "And you shall not lie with man who has lyings with woman..."

·         "And you shall not lie with man who lies with woman..."

The word "man" can also refer to the person being addressed, the implied "you", since the subject can precede the verb especially in cases where stress on the verb is intended. In either case, Kohlenberger's participle phrase translation "ones-who-lie-with" works well:

"And male not you-lie-with ones-who-lie-with woman, detestable that."

Which is,

"And you, man, shall not lie with those who lie with woman, it is detestable."

As mentioned earlier, the lyings are experienced by the one penetrated, and performed by the one penetrating.

Using "ones lying-with" also works just as well when "male" refers to one of those lying with women:

·         "And a male you shall not lie with ones who lie with woman..."

·         "And you shall not lie with man of those who lie with woman..."

In all of the cases above, this passage is read as a prohibition against sleeping with men who sleep with women, practicing heterosexuals/bisexuals (as practicing heterosexual men would either be married men or adulterers):

·         "You shall not lie with man lying with woman..."

·         "You shall not lie with man who lies with woman..."

Also, the time at which these lyings with women is taking place is open to interpretation. The phrase could simply refer to a general practice, or to an activity happening at the same time (multiple partner sex).

We should not forget the other passage. Lev 20:13 is literally,

"And-man who he-lies with male lyings-with woman..."

or, using Kohlenberger's alternate translation,

"And-man who he-lies with male ones-lying-with woman..."

As in Lev 18:22, this lends itself to the same permutation of possible readings, except that in this case, it the adjectival phrase, "lyings-with woman" more clearly describes the male being lain with. If we choose the translation, "lyings-with woman", we get,

·         "And man who lies with man having lyings with woman..."

·         "And man who lies with man who lies with woman..."

Still, it may refer to the man being addressed, although the adjective phrase is placed at a more considerable distance from the subject of the sentence. Nevertheless, we have:

·         "And man, who lies with man, and having lyings with woman..."
(Both phrases referring to the man doing the lying)

·         "And man, who lies with man, and who lies with woman..."
(Both phrases referring to the man doing the lying)

Likewise, if we choose the translation "ones-lying-with woman", the phrase is restricted to describing the male being lain with. "Ones-lying-with", if used to comprise an adjective phrase, is plural, and "you" is strictly singular. Similarly, the word for "male" is singular. But, the word "male", (zaachaar), is very often used in its singular form when implying one member of a plural male group. In this case, it is one male from those ones who lie with woman.

·         "And man who lies with male (of) ones who lie with woman..."

·         "And man who lies with a man (of) those who lie with woman..."

The reading above borders on a genitive usage. "Ones-lying-with" may be thought of as a construct state noun, which precedes the genitive woman. But, the word "ones-lying-with" itself may also be though of as genitive, and hence "male" can be thought of as a construct state noun preceding that genitive. There is no rule that there be any agreement in number for genitive nouns.

In this case, we have a translation of Lev 20:13,

·         "And man who lies with male of ones who lie with woman..."

·         "And man who lies with a man of those who lie with woman..."

The insertion of the word "of" between a noun and its associated adjective or genitive is an acceptable and common practise (Joshua 5:4, "the men (of) the war", i.e., "the war men", "the soldiers"). As is well known, genitive nouns form a kind of adjective. Also note how there is no forced agreement in number here.

We also note that the phrase "ones-lying-with woman" may serve as a substantive noun (it contains a gerund, after all), which may be described by the word "male" (which can be a noun, but which is usually used as an adjective). However, usually, adjectives follow the nouns the modify.



The Tanakh (Old Testament)

*  Reclaiming Leviticus 18:22

*  ...and Lev 20:13

*  Sodom and the Rape of Angelic Guests

*  David and Jonathan become Soul-mates

And, for followers of Paul,

Paul's Writings (New Testament)

*  Paul's Pagans

*  Natural vs. Unnatural

*  Penalties in their Persons: Venereal Disease

*  Paul's Coined Terms

Hebrew Grammar and 


Everybody knows that the bible says different things depending on who translates, interprets, and reads it. And, some prideful people like to think that they have a monopoly on the "correct" reading. A friend of mine once asked me if the passages that are often quoted as being "anti-gay" are really so. I was surprised at the question since, too often, advocates of equal human rights and religious freedom for gay people needlessly concede to the contrary claims of their opponents (as if their opponents truly did have a monopoly). And so, knowing the immense flexibility of reading in many parts of the bible, I went to work to answer her question.

Finding gay-tolerant interpretations and translations of the bible is easier than one might at first think. The purpose of this discussion is to briefly explain how the bible can be soundly read in a gay-tolerant manner. It is not to attack other interpretations. There are perhaps hundreds of versions of the bibles now printed in English. Many of them already contain a particular doctrinal slant in their translations. The mere fact that some of them contain extraneous descriptive heading paragraphs and comments embedded along with many verses attests to this. Others simply skew the translation in favor of doctrine (Isaiah 7:14 and chapter 53 are glaring examples).

To help cut through all this, we need a common and objective bible; so, we need to work with the actual Hebrew and Greek texts. Fortunately for those not familiar with these ancient languages, there are bibles, which contain these texts and the literal translations. These are called interlinearbibles because they have the literal English word(s) printed under each Hebrew or Greek word. There are only a few of these published for the Hebrew Old Testament. The best one I have found is John Kohlenberger's Hebrew-English Interlinear Old Testament (ISBN 0-310-40200-X). It is the most literal of the lot. Interlinear New Testaments can be found fairly easily. I recommend one called The Greek-English Interlinear New Testament (ISBN 0-8407-8357-4). You can usually find these at bookstores that will place orders, and in good libraries.

So, with that, we begin.

The Old Testament

Reclaiming Leviticus 18:22

We start with the passage that is first quoted by haters of gay folk, Leviticus 18:22. In Hebrew, it literally reads:

Lev 18:22

Hebrew is read from right to left, so, beginning at the right, we have,

Table 1: Sentence Parsing for Lev 18:22




Part of speech (Hebrew)





male, or, man

noun or adjective






verb (Kal), fut 2p(3p)sm


lyings (with-), of-lyings (with-) or,
ones-lying (with-), of-ones-lying (with-)or,
beds (of-), in-beds (of-)

gerund (verbal noun) or 
participle (verbal adjective) or
plain noun











So, this is literally,

"v'es zaachaar lo tishkav mishk'vey ishaw to'eyvaa hi."

"And man not you-lie-with lyings with-woman detestable that."
"And man not you-lie-with ones-who-lie with-woman detestable that."
"And man not you-lie-with in-beds of-woman detestable that."

A Few Initial Grammar Points

I do not want to bore the reader with the following discussion of grammar, but I think it is quite helpful to know.

The word (mishk'vey) is a noun. Specifically, it can be either a gerund, a participle, or a plain noun. What? Those of you familiar with English grammar may know that a gerund is a noun that is built from a verb (and is sometimes called a "verbal noun"). It can serve as a verbal noun or adjective, but always with an emphasis on the action (in abstract) rather than the doer. It represents the abstract concept of the verb. For example, in the English sentence, "Living is preferable to dying," both "living" and "dying" are gerunds. They occupy the place of nouns in the sentence. But, they are built from the verbs, "live" and "die". A participle also serves as a verbal noun/adjective, but with emphasis on the doer, not the action. In the sentence, "We offer a prayer for the living and for the dying," the two words are intended to refer to "those who are living" and "those who are dying". Again they are nouns. All of this is true for gerunds and participles in Hebrew as well. Furthermore, all nouns can be used as adjectives (either directly or by being considered as in the genitive case).

Although usually considered a gerund, (mishk'vey) is translated by some scholars as a participle, "ones-lying" or "those-lying". Kohlenberger (editor of the Hebrew-English Interlinear Bible) does this in Lev 18:22,

"And man not you-lie-with ones-who-lie with-woman detestable that."

But, if translated as a gerund, it means "lyings", "lyings-with", or translated as a plain noun, it can mean "beds (of-)" or "in-beds (of-)". Kohlenberger uses it as a gerund in Lev 20:13.

"And man who he-lies with male lyings of-woman detestable they-did..."

Note, I enclose the preposition "of-" in parentheses only to indicate that it is more properly part of the genitive noun that follows "beds" (in the case of Lev 18:22, "...beds of-woman"). But, some interlinear translators prefer to associate the preposition with the noun that precedes the genitive (such as writing "beds-of woman"). This is because it is that noun which changes its ending (when plural) when a genitive noun follows it. But, we choose to stick the preposition with the genitive noun itself, as is the common practice in Western languages. It makes no actual difference to this discussion.

There is some room for variation in Kohlenberger's translation, as you will see soon (for instance, "of-woman" can also be "with-woman", and as you have seen above, "lyings" can mean "beds"). For now, let me say a few more things about the grammar.

The verb root of tishkav () means to "lie down" and can carry either a simple meaning of lying, a bed, or a connotation of having sex (Lev 19:20). What is interesting is that if this were a simple prohibition against any kind of man-to-man sexual act, then the qualifying phrase, ("lyings with-woman" or "ones-lying with-woman") would be unnecessary. "tishkav" is used in many places, without qualification, to mean sexual sleeping. Exodus 22:19 uses "lie (with-)", without any qualification, to refer to forbidden sex with animals. Further examples are Exodus 22:16, 20:12; Genesis 19:32,34, 30:15, 39:7,12,14; Lev 20:20; Deut 22:22,23,25,28, 2nd Sam 11:11, 12:11, 13:11). The word, however, can also be used non-sexually. But, when it appears in lists of sexual laws, the context makes the sexual meaning evident.

Further discussion on this subject is found below in the section on Hebrew grammar.

At any rate, the literal translation using mishk'vey as either a gerund or a participle allows for several translations/readings, which span the spectrum in meaning. Here are several possible readings:

  1. "And you shall not lie with a man of lyings with woman..." (g)

  2. "And you shall not lie with a man of those lying with woman..." (p)

  3. "And you shall not lie with a man who has lyings with woman..." (g,p)

  4. "And you, of those lying with woman, shall not lie with a man..." (p)

  5. "And you, of lyings with woman, shall not lie with a man..." (g)

  6. "And you, having lyings with woman, shall not lie with a man..." (g)

  7. "And you shall not lie with a man (as you have) lyings with woman..." (g)

    1. "And you shall not lie with a man (like you have) lyings with woman..." (g)

    2. "And you shall not lie with a man (while you have) lyings with woman..." (g)

  8. "And you shall not lie in beds of woman with a man..." (g)

  9. "And you shall not lie lyings of woman with a man..." (g)

  10. "And you shall not lie with a man as a woman lies..." (g)

  11. "And you shall not lie with a man as (one) lies with woman..." (g)

  12. "And you shall not lie with a man as (you) lie with woman..." (g)

  13. "And you shall not lie with a man as with woman..." (g)

In each translation, the manner in which the noun, mishk'vey, is interpreted is denoted by (g) for gerund, and (p) for participle.

Detailed Discussion

These eleven variations run the range between the traditional anti-gay interpretation (#8 to #12) and a distinctively different, anti-promiscuity, anti-adultery interpretation (#1 to #7). It is worth pointing out that Translations #1 to #6 are explicitly not anti-gay.

People on opposite ends of the political spectrum will of course accuse the others of choosing the wrong translation. That is the nature of different factions, denominations, and religions.

In the translations above, the words in parenthesis denote words that must be inserted for the meaning to be made clear. What is interesting to note is that the meaning most commonly found in Bibles (#12) requires that we both remove the word "lyings-with" and insert "as with". By doing this, bible editors effectively mask the other possible meanings which are obvious to the reader only once the literal words "lying-with" are shown. So, the unsuspecting reader gets the false sense that there can be only one interpreted meaning.

From translations #1 to #3, we get the meaning that a man must not have sexual lyings (intercourse) with another man who is sleeping with a woman. In translation #1, the phrase, ("lyings-with woman" or "bedding of-woman") is a gerund noun phrase used as an adjective that describes the man being lain with, "zaachaar". As far as his activity is concerned, this is a "man of lyings-with woman", a "man of the beds of woman", a "woman-sleeping man", that is, a "man who sleeps sexually with woman". In modern terms, a "man of lyings with woman" would be what we know as a heterosexual man (ancient Hebrew had no word for heterosexual). A man who lies with both woman and man is, in modern terms, a practicing bisexual. Thus, translations #1 to #3 seem to forbid bisexual activity. Homosexuals and heterosexuals who stick to a policy of monogamy, then, are following this law.

We note that adjectives or adjective phrases usually follow the noun they describe, and indirect objects usually follow the verb. However, an indirect object may be repositioned in front of the verb for emphasis. This is the case here. "zaachaar" is placed before the verb for emphasis, but would otherwise fit in between the verb, "tishkav", and "mishk'vey".

Translation #2 is similar to #1, except that it treats (mishk'vey) as a participle ("those-lying-with" or "of-those-lying-with") rather than a gerund. It is still used to describe the man with whom the addressee is not to lie.

Translation #3 reflects the meaning you would get regardless of whether "mishk'vey" is treated as a participle or a gerund.

Translations #4 to #6 are very similar to #1 to #3, except that they interpret the adjectival phrase to describe the man being addressed. They have effectively the same meaning, but are only addressing a man who, himself, has sexual intercourse with women ("you of-lyings-with woman" or "you of those who lie with woman"). This keeps with the general grammatical rule that, in Hebrew, adjectives usually directly follow the nouns they describe (the subject "you" is implied in the verb, tishkav).

The issue of just to whom the phrase "lyings-with woman", or "ones-lying-with woman" applies -- the man doing the lying, or the man being lain with -- is very important in determining the meaning of this verse, and translations #1 to #3, and #4 to #6, reflect this.

Also lending to some diversity is the use of the English word "as" in translating the phrase. As translations #7, 7.1, and 7.2 show, "as" can take on several meanings, all of which can reflect a possible interpretation of the literal Hebrew as well.

Translations #8 to #13 treat the phrase as a direct object, rather than an adjective. Specifically, #8 renders both words of the phrase in the genitive case, "in-beds of-woman".

What about translations #9 to #13? The English wording ("as with woman") commonly seen in English bibles obscures the actual Hebrew structure, but many concordances list the phrase as being literally "lyings(-with) of-woman", "lyings of-woman", or even the singular, "lying of-woman". They are treating the word "woman" as genitive (as do Translations #1 to #8), and inserting an implied Hebrew "of" into the phrase. This is acceptable, just as it is acceptable to insert "in-" in translation #8. But, what is unclear is how they interpret this "of". In Hebrew, as in English, the genitive preposition "of" often does not imply possession or ownership, but rather merely association (so it is sometimes untranslated, or is translated as "with-" or "by-") or implies location ("in-", "on-"). For instance,

Ezekiel 34:12
"As-tending-of one-being-shepherd his-flock..."

Isaiah 54:5
"...those-rejoicing and-those-doing of-righteousness..."

Isaiah 14:19
"...like-a-branch loathed, covered of-slain-ones, ones-pierced of (by)-sword, ones-descending of(in)-to stones of-pit..."

Isaiah 66:6
"Someone-sacrificing of-the-bull is like someone-killing of-a-man..."

Judges 5:6
...roads were-abandoned, and-those-who-traveled of (on)-the-paths they-took roads winding.

Judges 5:9
My-heart with-those-ruling of-Israel...

Judges 5:10
Those-riding of(on)-donkeys white,
those-sitting of(-on) upon saddles,
and-those-walking of(on)-upon the-road, consider-them!

Incidentally, this is why a genitive noun or phrase can naturally function as an adjective. They add description to something else.

To the matter at hand, from the obscuring English translation, "as with woman", it is impossible to tell whether the translators thought "lyings of woman" to refer to the lyings belonging to (performed by) a woman, or to the lyings performed by a man on a woman. Perhaps they were not sure about the Hebrew meaning, and intentionally chose such a vague English rendering. As read in English, it could refer to either.

It is worth mentioning that in other instances where "lying-with" is used, it refers to vaginally penetrative sexual intercourse. Judges 21:11-12 uses the singular form of the word, mishk'v (lying-with), as a gerund in construct case used with the word (probably genitive), "male":

Similarly, we have,

Numbers 31:17,18,35

  • [17a] "and-all of-woman having-experience of-lying with-male you-kill."

  • [17b] "and-all of-woman having-experience in-bed of-male you-kill."

  • [18] "...of-the-girls who not they-experience by-lying with-male..."

  • [35] "the-women who not they-have-experience (of-)lying with-male..."

It is interesting that these passages can also be translated as, "...all woman having experience in the bed of a male..."

We note that, in the above verses, the noun phrase ("lying-with male") is experienced, not performed. The woman is the passive. Furthermore, it is vaginal penetration that is experienced. In those times, a woman's virginity was determined by whether she had the vaginal "tokens of a virgin", that is, her hymen, intact. She was still a virgin even if she had done any other activity we consider sexual today. In keeping with this, we could recognize the noun phrase in Lev 18:22, ("lyings-with woman"), to refer to active vaginal penetrations -- acts performed by the man on the woman.

This notion that the phrase "lying-with woman" meant vaginal penetration does draw support from Talmudic commentary. It should be noted this can be shown for noun phrases, but does not necessarily hold for the verb "lie-with" in general.

What is the point of all this? The traditional interpretation of "lyings-with woman" as "as with woman" in Lev 18:22 and 20:13 seems to miss the fact that, if the literal translation chosen is "lyings-with woman" (rather than "ones-lying-with woman"), then it is speaking of sexual intercourse involving vaginal penetration. One then must ask, how can a man be forbidden from vaginal penetration with another man? Translations #8 to #12 cannot answer this question.

Translations #1 to #6 avoid the problem by recognizing that the phrase, , translated literally as either "ones-lying-with woman" or "lyings-with woman", refers to vaginal penetration by a man with a woman. They use it to describe the man who does such a thing, the heterosexual man.

Which translation should a person select? Usually, a person's prejudices come into play here, and most people with some kind of personal objection to homosexual people will choose the anti-gay translation because it suits their psyche better. After all, the people down through the ages who have held the pen and been in charge of translations and commentaries have mostly been heterosexuals. Thus, they have imposed their opinions exclusively on these verses when presenting them to us.

All translations listed above are grammatically sound and possible, but the anti-gay interpretations are a bit farther from the literal wording.

In any case, there are many permutations of meanings one can get from Lev 18:22 and 20:13 just using the literal words alone. Most of the gay-tolerant ones prohibit bisexual activity. We might ask why bisexuality would be singled out. It is easy to see that bisexual activity implies having more than one partner, promiscuity, and usually adultery that are root causes of physical diseases associated with sex. Monogamy saves a person from this, and a monogamous man, homosexual or hetero in activity, would not be in violation of the above law according to Translations #1 through #6, and would also be safe from such diseases. For that matter, a bisexual (in mind/orientation but not activity) man who remained monogamous and faithful to only one partner (male or female) would also not be in violation.

What of Lev 20:13?

The first clause of Lev 20:13 literally reads:

Lev 20:13a

"v'ish   'ashar ishkav 'eth zachar mishk'vey   ishaw to'eyva    lashvo..."
"And-man who    lies   with male   lyings-with woman detestable they-did..."

"And man who lies with male lyings-with woman detestable they-did..."


"And man who lies with male ones-lying-with woman detestable they-did..."

Because the words are essentially the same as in Lev 18:22, I do not need to discuss the translations at length here. In summary, the gay-tolerant ones are:

  • "And man who lies with man having lyings with woman..."

  • "And man who lies with man who lies with woman..."

  • "And man who lies with man (of) ones who lie with woman..."

  • "And man who lies with a man (of) those who lie with woman..."

  • "And man, who lies with man, and having lyings with woman..."
    (both phrases referring to the man doing the lying)

  • "And man, who lies with man, and who lies with woman..."
    (both phrases referring to the man doing the lying)


Sodom and the Rape of Angelic Guests

We next move to what is probably the second most commonly quoted (actually misquoted) scriptures used against gays, the Soodom and Gomorrah story of Genesis 19.

Gen 19:3-5

"But, he (Lot) insisted that they (the angels) come with him, and they entered his house. And he prepared a meal for them, yeast less bread, and they ate. Before they went to lie down, men of the city, men of Sodom, from young to old, all of the people, to the very last one, surrounded the house. And, they called to Lot saying, 'Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them to us so that we may know of them."

The phrase "we may know" (of them) is presumed to mean that they want to have sexual relations with the angels. Technically, the same word "know" is used many times to mean simple knowledge rather than sexual activity.

But, be that as it may, what we see here is planned rape of guests. There is nothing to support the belief that this passage says more than what it does. And anyone who claims that is an example of a condemnation of homosexuality itself is blatantly ignoring the context of the story.

Also, some sloppy theologians and politicians like to suggest that Sodom was a city of all men. This is ridiculous, as it could not have survived for as long as it did without women. It is also worth pointing out that it is not just the men of Sodom who are here confronting Lot; it is ALL of the people of the city (neither Sodom nor Gomorrah were ever said to have had only men in it). Furthermore, Gen 14:21 also speaks of "persons" in Sodom rather than just men. And, Isaiah 1:9 suggests that if a remnant of Sodom had survived, they would have been able to come back, like Israel. This implies there must have been women. The word used for "men" can refer to groups containing both men and women.



As in English, Hebrew used the word, "man", and especially its plural "men" (enaashy), to refer to people in general, not just males.

In Gen 29:22 ("And Laban gathered together all the MEN of the place, and made a feast."), "enaashy" is used to refer to all the people, men and women. It is a rule of Hebrew grammar that when a word, adjective or noun, refers to a group of things which have different genders, the word is the masculine. Accordingly, the NIV translates "enaashy" as "people".

In Josh 8:14,21,25, we read, [14] "...when the king of Ai saw it... he and all his people... knew not that there were ambushers..." [21] "...And when Joshua and all Israel saw that the ambush had taken the city... then they turned and slew the men of Ai." [25] "And so it was, that all that fell that day, both of men and women, were twelve thousand, all the MEN of Ai." The text itself bears witness to the fact that the word "enaashy", MEN, refers to all the people, both men and women. NIV translates enaashy accordingly as "people".

In Dan 7:13 we read "...one like the Son of man..." Christians should appreciate this one, since they like to think it refers to Jesus, who called himself the "Son of man". Yet, here, the word man must be understood to refer to people or mankind, not just males since Jesus was really a Son of humans, the Son of woman, but not a Son of male.

In Gen 39:11 we read "And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business, and there was none of the men of the house there within." Next, Joseph's master's wife tries to seduce Joseph when there is no one else around. Clearly, "enaashy" refers to any person, not just males.

In Lev 18:27 ("For all these abominations have the MEN of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled"), the NIV retranslates the Hebrew word, "enaash"/"MEN", as "people" here.

Num 13:32 reads "...and all the PEOPLE that we saw in it are MEN of a great height." Here, the word for "people", ngaam, is used in conjuction with enaashy/MEN, and so MEN clearly refers to all people. NIV thus translates enaashy as "people".

Deut 27:14 "...say to all the MEN of Israel with a loud voice..." NIV translates "MEN" as "people". And, indeed, it is all the people of Israel who are being addressed, all of them who are being forbidden to make idols, and all of the people (ngaam) who respond in the following verses saying "amen".

Gen 24:13 "...the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water..."

In Gen 17:23, "...every male among the men of Abraham's house...", we see that "men" clearly refers to all the people.

Several other pasages using "men" to refer to people in general are Gen 6:4, Lev 7:25, Judges 6:28, 6:30, 19:16, Jer 11:2,9,23, 17:25, 18:11, 32:32, 35:13, 36:31, 38:4, 43:9, and 44:27.

In offering his daughters to the men, Lot was attempting to avoid both the act of rape (since in Biblical times, when a father gave his daughter to a man, he was giving consent for the sexual intercourse that would follow), and to avoid an act of unkindness to strangers (because he and his daughters were not strangers). It is also well worth pointing out that after offering his virgin daughters to the gang rapists, Lot and his daughters fled Sodom only to have sex with each other. This casts new light on just how much Lot really valued the daughters' virginity to begin with.

Ezekiel reminds us that Sodom's sins were much more than "detestable things". Most of the sins he lists are those of inhospitality and lack of charity:

Ezek 16:49-50

Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. They were haughty, and did detestable things before me.

And, even Jesus speaks of Sodom in the context of hospitality:

Mark 6:11

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.

Some would object that if these scriptures meant that multi-partner relationships, or promiscuity, was wrong, that surely some place else in the Bible would mention something upholding monogamous homosexual relationships. But, the bible is more likely to speak against the "shalt nots" than the "shalls". For that matter, the Bible does not actually dictate that one should marry only one wife, and it does not even dictate that one must marry (Gen 2:24 is not a command to marry), though it goes to elaborate detail on what should be done if one takes another's wife. Further, there was never a law against a married man sleeping with an unmarried woman, and so this was permitted. Yet, there was no mention of it, no positive rule saying it was okay. Allowance by omission... like our declaration of independence. Not making restrictions is the implied consent for remaining freedoms.

As for there being other positive references to homosexual relationships, there may indeed be.

David and Jonathan become Soul-mates

1st Samuel 18:1-4

And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking to Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. So Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house. Then Jonathan and David made vows, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and took off his clothes, even his sword, and to his bow, and took off his girdle.

Saul Finds out About David's and Jonathan's Relationship

1st Samuel 20:30

Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said to him, "You son of the perverse rebellious woman, don't I know that you have chosen the son of Jesse to your own shame, and to the shame of your mother's nakedness?

David and Jonathan Kiss

1st Samuel 20:41-42

And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bent over three times: and they kissed each other, and wept one with another, and David exceedingly. And Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for as we have vowed in the name of L0RD, saying, "L0RD be between me and you, and between my seed and your seed forever. And he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.

David Sings a love song for Jonathan

2nd Samuel 1:26

I miss you, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant have you been to me. Your love to me was wonderful, better than the love of women.

New Testament

The only thing the New Testament says that may possibly relate to homosexuality is found in the letters of Paul. For those who are not compelled to take Paul's words as divinely inspired, the following discussion will be irrelevant. But, for those whose religion is founded on Paul, the following will be important.

Before continuing, we might also suggest that you examine how Christianity, particularly Evangelical Christianity, fares in the whole issue of sins and abominations. You may be quite surprised.

Paul Condemns the Pagans, Turned into Orgy-mongerers

Paul says that his god became angry with people who worshipped idols, and "turned them over to wild passions". These people consequently went into a unbridled orgy with each other, and got diseases as a result. This was their punishment.

Romans 1:19-27

"Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath shown it to them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and divinity, so that they are without excuse.

"Because, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Claiming themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image resembling corruptible man, and birds, and four footed beasts, and reptiles.

"Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness in lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves, who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

"Therefore, God gave them over to dishonorable passions, for even their women changed 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 towards others, men with men, doing that which is shameful, and receiving in their persons the fitting consequence of their error."

There is not a biblical word for "homosexual". Sexual practices are always specified by their activity and the context in which that activity takes place. So, we must take a look at what Paul is describing before we can tell what he means in modern terms.

Natural vs. Unnatural

These orgies are homosexual, but Paul's calling them "unnatural" deserves some attention. If Paul means that homosexual behavior is not found in nature, he is wrong. Though he probably did not know that homosexual behavior could be found in some animals in nature (dolphins, whales, monkeys, humans, just to name a few). On the other hand, it is known that people themselves have a sexual orientation and sexual desires. A person's personality and sexual drive is part of their nature. Paul may or may not have known this, but perhaps if you believe G0D were speaking through him (or in spite of him), this "nature" may refer to a person's sexual orientation. So, Paul (or his god) may simply mean that these people engaged in homosexual acts that were NOT part of their nature as heterosexuals.

St. Paul himself advocates unnatural sexual behavior when he recommends abstinence even among the married people in 1st Corinthians 7:29-40! Abstinence is unnatural. He further recommends refraining from marriage altogether. This is certainly abnormal.

Penalties in their Persons: Venereal Disease

We read, "...and receiving in their persons the fitting consequence of their error". The activities of these idol-worshipping pagans were orgiastic and promiscuous in nature. The only penalty involved in this whole ordeal is the fact that they got venereal diseases (in their "persons" or bodies) as a result. One does not get venereal diseases by having sex with just one partner. Thus their activity was promiscuous. And it is these wild passions that may be described as shameful or dishonorable.

Another important thing to notice is that these pagans were not initially practicing homosexual orgies, and they did not initially have sexual passions for one another. If they had already possessed the passions that they had been "given over to", there would have been no need to give them over to them, obviously. In modern terms, these people were initially heterosexual, both in activity and in passion/orientation. Paul says that his god somehow caused this to change. As such, this is not a condemnation for their sexual practices, but a case in which Paul's god uses wild sexual orgies, leading to venereal disease, to punish the pagans for worshipping idols.

Therefore, in light of the context, this passage does not speak of homosexuality in general, and certainly not monogamous homosexuality in specific.

Paul's Coined Terms

1st Corinthians 6:9-10

Do you all not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the soft, male whores, nor thieves, nor the envious, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Here, the word for "male whores" is "arseno-koitai". It is not an actual Greek word, but one that Paul has created, coined. Its two roots mean "male" (arseno) and "sex" (koitai), where such "sex" is usually of a licentious nature. The word may mean "male whoremongers" as easily as "male whores". Some bible editors show their bias against homosexuals and attempt to broadly translate this as the modern "homosexuals". The editors of the KJV, for instance, preferred to translate it as the rather long-winded "the abusers of themselves with mankind". However, it need not necessarily be so, and "male whore" is the closest fitting translation given its matching ambiguity. A "male whore" is either a male temple prostitute, who had sex with pagan worshippers as a living idol of their god, or a fornicating man who simply has promiscuous sex with men or women. Male temple prostitutes, also known as cult prostitutes, were very common in many of the cultures' religions in those days, and both male and female cult prostitutes are mentioned in many places throughout the Old Testament. In context, this is the closest thing that matches Paul's made-up words.

What of "the soft"? This is a real Greek word, "malakois", meaning literally, "soft". It is used in Matt 11:8 and Luke 7:25 to describe soft clothes,fine clothes. What it means in 1st Corinthians is difficult to say. There are several other sins listed, and not all of them are sexual. It may refer to the "ethically soft" (morally/spiritually weak or indecisive), or the fineries of those with too much wealth. Some bible editors have chosen to translate it as "the effeminate" here. And, quite oddly, the NIV has translated it as "male prostitutes", which is, rather, the meaning of "arsenokoites". This is quite a stretch considering that the word literally means "soft".

1st Timothy 1:9-10

Know this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for father-killers and mother-killers, for man-killers, for fornicators, male whores, sellers of men, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine.

Here, the word used for "male whores" is again "arseno-koitais", so I refer you to the above discussion. Some English translations translate this word as "Sodomites", based on the shaky assumption that the sins of Sodom (whatever they were) are the best match for this coined Greek word. The question then becomes, what was the sin of Sodom? Was it homosexuality in general? Not likely. See the discussion on Gen 19:3-5 above. Even if Sodom's sin was homosexuality in general (ignoring context for the moment), "male whores" is still the more accurate translation here in 1st Timothy anyway.


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