Some questions for Christians and the church about homosexuality and same-sex acts:
If one permits couples in heterosexual marriages to engage in sexual activity that does not each and every time include or conclude with coitus, does that not weaken the argument against sexual activity between loving committed same-sex partners? When coitus is not involved, why can't a man do sexually to or with his male partner what a woman can do sexually to or with her male partner, or why can't a woman do sexually to or with her female partner what a man can do sexually to or with his female partner?
For those who would argue that homosexual sex is wrong because it cannot be procreative, is non-procreative sex between married heterosexual couples okay? Many heterosexual couples engage in sexual activity with no intention of procreation, or with no unprotected coitus (thus preventing even the possibility of procreation, assuming no unintended semen entry). Are they permitted to do this? When gay couples engage in non-procreative sexual activity, they do it for the very same reasons that heterosexual couples do. Gay persons have the very same unconscious and unprompted feelings of arousal and sexual longing and urging toward persons of the same sex that heterosexual persons have toward members of the opposite sex, and studies seem to show that trying to reprogram or redirect gay persons' arousals and urgings to respond to opposite-sex persons is rarely if ever successful. So if the reason for "male and female" - i.e., procreation - is not a required factor for all permissible heterosexual sexual activity, why can't homosexual couples do what heterosexual couples may do? If the intent or possibility of procreation is not the determining factor or sine qua non for permissible sexual activities between heterosexuals, then why may homosexual couples not engage in sexual activities?
For those who view same-sex attraction as at best a disability or a perversion/distortion of proper sexuality, or as a less-than-ideal situation: We permit and even encourage heterosexual couples to find accommodations for sexual or physical impairments so that they can engage in sexual activity for the non-procreative benefits of love, fulfillment, closeness, bonding, pleasure (including selflessly pleasing the other), etc., that such activities achieve. If same-sex attraction is indeed a lack of, or impairment or damage to, the "normal" ability to react and act sexually toward a person of the opposite sex, why should we not have the same compassion and attitude toward persons with same-sex attraction, especially since the "accommodation" in such cases is so easy - i.e., simply let them sexually relate to a person of the same sex?
I think one limits one's ability to fully think about these issues if one automatically or primarily refers to or views persons with same-sex attraction as "homosexuals" or as having a "homosexual 'lifestyle'." Why do we use this terminology to categorize and (often) stereotype such persons? Do we primarily refer to ourselves or each other by our eating preferences (omnivores, vegetarians, vegans)? Or by the means by which we get to work or school (motorists, bicyclists, public transportation riders)? Or by our residences (homeowners, home buyers, renters)? Or by our entertainment preferences? Etc. All of these are equally valid ways of classifying people, depending on the purpose of the classification. As one author pointed out, we could just as validly group together men and women who are sexually attracted to men as being "androphiles" or "androsexuals," and men and women who are sexually attracted to women as being "gynecophiles" or "gynecosexuals." I don’t primarily or even significantly view or regard myself as being "a heterosexual," and I certainly wouldn't say that I live or have a "heterosexual 'lifestyle'," as my "lifestyle" encompasses and can be defined or characterized by a lot of things, not simply or mainly by my opposite-sex attraction or sexual activity.
It seems to me that Christians have or should have more in common with each other than with non-Christians. I.e., Christians, regardless of their sexual attraction, should first understand themselves to be brothers and sisters of/with each other and not reflexively align/ally heterosexual Christians (including themselves) more with heterosexual non-Christians than with homosexual Christians, nor align/ally homosexual Christians (including themselves) more with homosexual non-Christians than with heterosexual Christians. Maybe a first step in Christians and the church being better about these things is to stop defining members of the body of Christ as being "homosexuals" or "heterosexuals."
Monday, May 06, 2013
Papyrus 46 - Romans 16:4-13
DON'T DO IT!!!
Look at the list:
"I commend to you Phoebe" - a woman - probably the person Paul trusted to carry his letter to Rome - "a deacon(ess)" [diakonos*, a common gender noun used for both men and women, and hence could refer to an office she held, and not just a statement that she was a "servant"] - "she has been a prostatis to many and to myself, too" - i.e., a benefactor, perhaps a wealthy or powerful citizen who introduced Paul to the persons in her city, or even protected Paul and supplied his needs, etc.
"Greet Prisca and Aquila" - note that Prisca's (Priscilla's), a woman's name, comes first (as it does in most of the other New Testament mentions of this couple) - and she is a "fellow-worker" too, one who risked her own neck for Paul's life. And ... she has a church in her house.
"Greet Mary" - another woman.
"Greet Andronicus and Junia" - a woman - one who is "well known to the apostles" or "outstanding among the apostles" - i.e., possibly a woman apostle. John Chrysostum and the Early Church Fathers took the Greek to mean that she was an apostle.
Dan Wallace reports that a massive computer search of Greek literature shows that the construction of the phrase overwhelmingly favors the translation "well known to the apostles." See Innovations in the Text and Translation of the NET Bible, New Testament - II.B.2. Also see Junia Among the Apostles: The Double Identification Problem in Romans 16:7 and Was Junia Really an Apostle? A Re-examination of Rom 16.7.
A discussion (June 3, 2002ff.) on B-Greek cites Eldon Jay Epp, "Text-Critical, Exegetical, and Socio-cultural Factors affecting the Junia/Junias Variation in Romans 16,7," pp. 227-291 in New Testament Textual Criticism and Exegesis: Festschrift J. Delobel, Edited by A. Denaux, BETL 161, Leuven: Leuven University Press/Peeters, 2002, in opposition to Wallace's conclusions, however. (I can't find this discussion in the B-Greek archives now.) And Suzanne McCarthy has a seven-part rebuttal to the Wallace-Burer position: McCarthy vs Wallace (and Grudem)
Whether or not an apostle, the name is "Junia," i.e., a woman, and not a shortened version of the male "Junianus" - an apparent fiction invented by those who found the idea of a woman apostle hard to accept. "Junias" (the Greek form - accusative case) was considered to be a woman at least until the 13th century, as Douglas Moo writes in his acclaimed commentary on Romans. (Epp - see above - apparently argues for the name being masculine.)
"Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa" - also women.
"Persis" is a woman, as the description of her as "the beloved" is in the feminine gender.
"Greet Rufus the chosen one in the Lord and his mother - and mine also." Now, if this is the same Rufus who was the son of Simon the Cyrene, who carried Jesus's cross, since Cyrene is in Africa, Simon and hence Rufus were likely Black - and Paul is claiming Rufus' mother as being like his own mother. So now we have another praiseworthy woman, and an African one at that.
"Greet Julia" - another woman ... "and Nerea's sister" (a woman).
Not to mention that, as Moo points out, Paul identifies three, and possibly five separate house churches (vv. 5,14,15; cf. also vv. 10,11).
(I originally wrote and/or last edited this June 23, 2002 when I used to have a Web page, though I have updated/added the links.)
* (s. , ; Trag., Hdt. et al.;ins, pap, LXX; TestSol 6:10 L, for ; TestJud 14:2; Philo,Joseph., Just., Tat., Iren., Hippol.) gener. one who is busy with someth. in a manner that is of assistance to someone