Have we lost our conscience?
Have we lost our conscience?

 

We often read the bible on the surface, using the tag line "You can't read it any other way" not reflecting deeper perhaps vary of what we may find or afraid that our anti-gay position is not blibical hence we were so wrong. Was the bible written "to" us, or was it "for" us?, and if it was "for" us so far removed from time, space, and religions, we should be vary. On the GLBT issue, the church have lost her conscience and without a conscience, we will not find God. When we do not see our own humanity and leave room for our tendency to err, we have made ourselves mini gods.

In the 21st century, when we see a man raped by a crowd of rowdy men of the Bronx in New York, only the most biased would attritube this to gays. The person being raped and the crowd who raped him was probably not even gay since they form such a small minority of the population.Was same sex acts involved, yes undeniably. But to attribute the act by itself and  ignoring the context and motivation as a sin is setting the bar rather high indeed. As we defend ourselves by repeating "you can't read it any other way", the reply from heaven becomes clearer - "you can't be judged any other way".

When we declare gays guilty using such narrow judgement, we are in return guilty of every single law in the bible irrespective of context and beyond. ie if you work on Sunday, you are a sinner. If your church have people who had gone through divorce, abortion, went bankrupt without paying back money, again it is sin. Sin then becomes not what you define but by the standards you measure against others. Even looking at a magazine cover containing semi nude woman is a sin. If women don't wear a head scaft, it is again sin, and because of the high religious standard we judge others, we ourselves are not forgiven.

Our generalised statement that "we are a sinner saved by grace" also doesn't help much because the judgement is today and not in heaven just as we insist that gays be put into prisons, and have no rights whatsoever. It's not about winning an argument or a difference of opinion, for whatever we sow, we reap four fold of the harm. We deny grace and mercy for our own lives. We wonder why God is not moving, because we can't see our blood stained hands. When we do not "forgive others" we are not forgiven.

Our reading of the bible is marred by prejudice and a biased conclusion. For example,

(Lev 18:22 NKJV) 'You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination.

(Lev 20:13 NKJV) 'If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them.

We may jump into the conclusion that the entire city were  gays having a sex orgy, but  this is so far removed from same sex orientation by a small minority. A plain reading of the verses used to condemn gays is not insightful without understanding the religious context. A key in this understanding is the use of the word “abomination” or "towebah" in Strong’s Concordance H8441. Only certain sexual acts were denoted as “towebah” which excludes the sexual activities in the preceding Lev 18:6-20 including having sex with your fathers many wives, all were said to be prohibited and wicked, but none of them an abomination.

The word “Towebah” for abomination occurring 117 times in 112 verses almost always had a religious idol worship connotation, for example

a) Deut 7:25 where the Jews are not supposed to worship the carved images of the Egyptians and Canaanite gods nor have anything to do with the gold or silver on them, or bring the abomination or the idol into the house.

b) Deut 12:31 criticizes the worship practices to the other gods which it calls an abomination including sacrificing of babies to the gods.

The laws in Leviticus were motivated to resist the idol worship of the Egyptians and the Canaanites (Lev 18:3). The role of the priests and the priestess in this fertility idol worship were sexual in nature. In Deut 23:17-19, both the men and women of Israel were prohibited from becoming ritual harlots or qadesh, and even the money obtained from such activities were considered an abomination.  For the Israelites, the term “abomination” or the mention of idol worship would immediately conjure up images of:-.  

a) The Egyptian fertility god, Apis, a bull deity worshipped in the Memphis region where the Israelites had just came out of. Therefore when Moses could not be found, in Ex 32:4-6, the people of Israel made themselves a golden calf to worship as a burn offering and rejoicing (Ex 32:18). As part of the worship, there would be a mass sexual orgy and rejoicing where the worshippers would have sex with the temple priests and priestess.

b) The fertility god Molech (Lev 18:21) consisting of a man’s body and the head of the calf famous for its live sacrifices of babies. In the “The Sacred Fire: The Story of Sex in Religion by B. Z. Goldberg”, it was said that the worship of Molech was masculine by nature and excluded women. The priests were Eunuchs who had castrated themselves, and the worshippers were having anal sex with the priests. There were also young men who sold themselves to play the role of the harlot, and even dogs specially trained for the worshippers to have sex with. Thus, we have the term “price of a dog” in Deut 23:18 in NKJV translated as “male prostitutes” in NIV.   This also explains why Lev 18:22, did not mention women having sex with women because there were no women in the worship of Molech.

In Rom 1:26,27, Paul was preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Jews in Rome (1:15), and was facing the Judaist who insisted that their righteousness is from the law, and so Paul leveraging on the prevailing idol worship in Rome, highlighted that under the law, the ancient Jews were not very much different. He explained how their ancestors under the Law had worshiped idols even to the extent of engaging in the sex with the priests as we have seen in Leviticus. They were exchanging to truth of God and worshiping a lie (Rom 1:25). The Jews were judging (Rom 2:1) those who practised the same kind of sexual orgies prevailing then in Rome where the Syrian goddess Cybele was both male and female with a bearded face and a big breast. The male priests were castrated to mark the mourning of Cybele’s androgynous lover Attis. His death would be re-enacted by cutting themselves with stones, castrating themselves and putting on women's clothing.

Catherine Kroeger in “The Apostle Paul and the Greco-Roman cults Of Women” found in the Journal of the Evangelical Society details how these cults were often marked by gruesome sex exchanges. Hence, it was a choice for the male priests to exchange their natural sexual orientation, to become a "women". The term "natural" also speaks of being natural for us to worship God who created us and this world (Rom 1:20), and conversely unnatural for us to worship idols made by our own hands as if they were gods (Rom 1:23). Hence, the same sex acts in Rom 1:26,27 was motivated by the unrighteousness of idol worship even under the law rather than homosexuality. 

I believe that God is calling the Christian Church to have a clear conscience lest our hearts are so hardened that we do not see the harm that we are causing. We are not forgiven when we do not forgive others - when we hold them to what we consider as sin, then we are much greater sinners because the judgement bar has been raised against us.

The Rev Pastor Derek Hong of the Church of Our Saviour was not wrong when he said that Satan is using gays to destroy the church of Jesus Christ. It's only half the truth, for it is not gay "mobs" of Sodom attacking the church, rather our unprovoked actions against the gay community. When we sow destruction, we receive it many fold in return. So let us instead sow God's love, grace and mercy, and always to err on the side of love, for there is no other way but love in Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.  

 We have lost our conscience and without a conscience, we will not find God. We are not forgiven when we do not forgive others. When we do not see our own humanity and leave room for our tendency to err, we have made ourselves mini gods. The GLBT issue has become a sin unto the church of Jesus Christ.

 

 
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