Tuesday, September 12, 2023

A Sticky Subject With My Mother: Christianity VS LGBTQ ...

*Editing still in progress. 

Before I begin, let me just preface this conversation that I had with my mother, yesterday, by saying that I do not believe that LGBTQ is a choice - I believe they are "born this way" or "created this way."

I also feel that most of my fellow Christians oversimplify what the bible actually says on this topic, instead accepting without question their church doctrines, without considering: Separate word translations from Hebrew or Greek, knowledge of Levitican, Mosaic, or Roman law,  nor the audience at the time of the verse - the who said it, when it was said, and why. 

Also, Jesus wasn't a conservative, he clearly wasn't a fan of much of Mosaic law - he evolved the law, as he said all the law should "hang" on love - something that we must also strive to do as Jesus would still if he were here today 

Also keep in mind that I have lost two friends to AIDS, and another who tried to commit suicide by slitting his wrists for being unable to be straight.  The two friends that died of AIDS tried to reach out to churches but the churches would not call them back.  So it was up to me to try to convey Christ's love, and I'm a poor surrogate.

LGBTQ people are estimated to be twice as likely to commit suicide, with teenage/young adult gay men in particular being up to 5x as likely.

Thus, this is an issue very close to my heart that I can be very passionate about.

So as I've mentioned before, my mother and I have reconnected within the last year over a DNA reveal situation and it's gone
 extraordinarily well, IMO, because she's now on antipsychotics lol. 

That was, until today - I may have upset her?

(*There was a portion here about a song she shared with me regarding grace, but while editing, I decided it was too personal of a thing to share and could be misconstrued, so I removed it.  I wrote this stream-of-consciousness anyway so I wouldn't forget the details of the conversation in case I need to later.

She had shared a song about grace, and on that note, she brought up that her pastor was "counseling a trans person today."

*Record scratch*

I bristled.

Then the conversation went something like this, from my perspective:

Me: "What does that mean, counseling a trans person? I mean, what is the goal?" 


Mom: "I guess it means that he's going to counsel him/her on what the bible says about being trans because he/she asked."  


Me: "Mmkay. I'm not sure he's qualified, most Christians aren't because they don't know the actual translation of these sexual terms in the bible from the original Hebrew or Koine Greek, which often have no direct translation, or meant something according to Levitican or even Roman law that doesn't exist today." 
"But I guess I need to know what your pastor, and you, think the bible says about LGBTQ issues first. I think I know where you stand, but where does he stand?"  


Mom: "Well, the bible says it's wrong." 


Me: "Well, it depends on which law is being referred to, who said it, when, and why - the context and the audience, the actual meaning of the Hebrew or Greek words used versus what we think they mean, as well as the difference between Hebrew law and their captors laws." 
"I'm not sure this person is looking for anyone to save their soul or turn them straight. They're looking for the love of Christ, acceptance of them, even if YOU think they're a sinner,.  I personally don't, I think they're created this way and it's not a choice." 
"Christians tend to accept even repeat sinners (like Trump), just so as long as it's not LGBTQ or abortion, and it doesn't make any sense." 
"So perhaps focusing on the love and acceptance of Christ should be the first goal of this "counseling" rather than education?"  
"Because I don't think the bible says what you think it does, particularly if you know what the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek terms actually translate to." 


"Levitican law in Leviticus is one of two places where the original Hebrew translation for  consensual homosexuality is used ("miskeve" or 'lie with.")  All other times, the word "shakab" is used, meaning rape - in fact, "shakab" is used for rape of both men and women because there is no Hebrew term for anal sex, consensual or sodomy - and sodomy actually means rape by anal sex.)    
(Also and FYI, the word for sodomite is Kadesh or Quadesh, and it literally meant a person from Sodom, known for raping both men and women.)


But Levitican law also says some complete nonsense, like you shouldn't mix your fabrics, eat pork or shellfish. That is because at the time, they were trying to increase the population and we knew little about things like parasites and bacteria, so they just outlawed the overall environments to avoid a problem, before they knew about the underlying culprits.  
"We are NOT trying to increase the population, at least not to that degree, we're already overpopulated."  


"And besides, Levitican Law was literally stolen from their captors, the Sumerians/Babylonians, from Hammurabi's code stone - a people who didn't believe in an afterlife and thus all punishment must be swift and merciless. They just stamped God's name on it. This is why Jesus worked so hard to repudiate it and say that all of the law should hang on love."   


"Levitican law also says touching a leper was punishable by death, and not just because they knew it was contagious, but because it was erroneously believed that they had leprosy because of their sin"
"Jesus knew this was complete nonsense -  leprosy is caused by bacteria with no respect for person or character or moral status - which is why he defied law and walked right in there, touched lepers, healed them,  loved them.  And again, Jesus defied any OT law that did not "hang on" love, loving thy neighbor as thyself" such as healing on the Sabbath:)" 
"In my opinion, AIDS was the leprosy of our time, and yet we Christians abandoned them instead of doing what Christ did."


"Now, in the New Testament, the only person to mention homosexuality was Paul; in fact, he seemed obsessed with  it and other sexual sin, unlike Christ, who seemed to feel greed, hypocrisy, judgmentalism, deception, and power abuse were more destructive and thus more important." 
"The Koine Greek term that Paul uses - the apostle that appears to be obsessed with sexual sin - is “ἀρσενοκοῖται” (arsenokoitai)" - which actually means "male prostitute" - not homosexuality, or even "lying with" as is in Levitican law.  
(Prostitution was actually legal under Roman law, but Levitican law forbade it - but not for the reasons that you think.)  


"Now, let's look at what Jesus said, who admittedly came to repudiate aspects of Levitican/Mosaic OT law that did not hang on love, and is our actual Messiah - not Moses, not Paul, not anyone else." 
"Jesus wasn't concerned with gender or sexual sin, he barely mentioned it. In fact, when the Sadducees (religious scholars) tried to trick him and ask him about marriage in heaven, this happened in Matthew 22


23 That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. 24 “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him." 
25 Now there were seven brothers among us. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. 26 The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. 27 Finally, the woman died. 28 Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” 
29 Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. 
30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.


What do you think that means, Mom? 


Mom: "I dunno, just that God doesn't care who she married first, or about marriage in heaven, all he cares about is your spirit and your soul." 


Me: "Exactly, I agree, marriage appears to be an earthly construct for social insurance that isn't required and doesn't apply in the afterlife and Jesus doesn't seem to be particularly concerned about; and further, that we will be like the angels in heaven; what do you think that means, what do we know about angels?" 


Mom: "They are purely spiritual beings that do God's will." 


Me: "Exactly - and that they have no gender - which is why Christ said it :) 
So Jesus - and God - aren't concerned with our gender or our marriages, that is an earthly manmade construct - he's concerned with our soul and spirit. And let us not forget, the Holy Spirit has no gender, either.  Perhaps the soul itself has no gender then?" 


Mom: "He's not concerned with our soul, he's concerned with our spirit. " 


Me: "Huh??? Of course he is, he's concerned with both soul and spirit. Do you know the difference?" 


Mom: "Yeah, they're interrelated, but it is our spirit is what goes to heaven, not our soul, and the Holy Spirit lives in ours. The soul is part of the flesh, the body." 


Me: "Huh?!?  I don't think so. The flesh dies, the soul doesn't. In your opinion, what is the difference between the soul and the spirit?" 


Mom: "The soul is the thoughts, will, and emotions. " 


Me: "If that were the case, then animals have souls. Do they? Because although they may, and I wish that to be true, the bible is silent on this subject."  


Mom: "No, because humans have free will choice to choose him, animals don't." 


Me: "But you just said the soul contains the will, thoughts, and emotions - animals have thoughts, emotions, and a will to do what they want to do or not, too, albeit less complex, but they do -  so that can't be the definition of the soul." 


"Let me tell you my definition of the soul - the soul is the spiritual center, the anchor for the spirit - it's the house where the spirit resides. You can kill the flesh, the body, but you cannot kill the spirit, nor the house that contains it, the soul."  
Mom: "No, that's not right. The spirit is what Christ was talking about "like the angels in heaven," not the soul."  


Me: "Oh? Then why would Satan want our souls? Why does he want to collect the soul rather than the spirit?" 


Mom: "I don't know, I'd have to think about it." 


Me: Perhaps because it's as Christ also said in Matthew 10:28: "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell." 


"So there's Christ himself clearly saying the soul is not part of the flesh and that the soul cannot be killed by anyone here on earth, only in hell. So Satan would then be after our soul - not our spirit."  
"So our soul is like the "house" for the spirit, the anchor, that will go to heaven or hell." 


Mom: "But Christ also says that we will have a body when he returns again?" 


Me: "Yes, when he returns, not after death in heaven.  And does he say it will have a penis or not or be married or not?  I doubt it - because he already said he essentially doesn't care, that's not what's important, the body isn't important, the soul and spirit are."  


Mom:  "So do you believe that children should have these surgeries to be another gender?" 


Me:  "Of course not, I think they should be legal adults before they make such a life-altering decision.  Where is this happening, by the way, because there are no doctors that perform those surgeries in Kentucky?" 


Mom:  "I don't know, but they are.  And the parents are pushing for it." 


Me:  "Okay, I don't know, but here's what I DO know. .." 
"I transcribed for a year for Boston Children's Hospital Intersex/Gender Identity Clinic, one of the first in the country several years ago.  The first thing you need to know is that there are more children born with some element of both genders than we'd like to believe." 
"And though it is often the parents wanting to place a gender on them, the doctors always encourage that the child be the one to make that decision when age-appropriate." 
"In fact, the parents are often encouraged to go to therapy to figure out why it's so important to them to have their child be a certain gender over the other one. 
"So if ANY parent is pushing their child to have a particular gender, such a life-altering surgery, they need to get therapy first to understand why pushing for that is so important to THEM rather than their child, and that's what these doctors usually request of them first."


"Also, the reason men have nipples, why?" 
"The brain develops first, then the nipples, then the lower reproductive organs - so the reproductive organs aren't even  determined yet until much later, so we have nipples because it could go either way at first." 
"How do we know the brain didn't develop one gender and the reproductive organs didn't, that something got lost in gene translation or gene expression?  The fact is, we don't. " 
"We also know that both men and women have male and female hormones that frequently become out of balance, particularly with age.  We also have just discovered that trans-women express more female gene features already, even before hormone therapy or surgery." 


"Stranger so-called "birth defects" have happened, but I don't even like to call them that because God doesn't make mistakes.  But the lesson from those children with so-called "defects" is for us, not them - how to better love our neighbors, including those who aren't like us." 
"It's not a choice, it's not even a birth defect - they were created that way for a reason, and those who suffer most are the most sanctified - so we often should be learning from them and not vice versa." 


"On that note, I am going to pray for both your pastor and this trans person, that they will nurture each others' spirits, because if you think one is morally superior to the other and is in the teacher, think again - sometimes the student becomes the teacher, particularly with those that have suffered most, and suffering sanctifies." 
"Forgive my passion on the subject, but I have buried two friends from AIDs and watched another slit his wrists because he couldn't be straight no matter how hard he tried. I'm afraid of them feeling more shame when believe me, most already feel shame enough on themselves, if you knew any of them well. " 


"As you said, your pastor has no experience with LGBTQ and asked for prayer.  They're not so different, they're people too, with souls.  And they've suffered enough already, shamed themselves enough they don't need any more, or some misguided/mistranslated/misinterpreted instruction on what the bible says, even if done gently. " 
"Jesus said that greater a millstone be hung around thy neck and thrown into the deepest sea than cause a little one to stumble (Mark 9) - and he didn't mean just children.  Again, that's oversimplifying a complex topic and taking semi-literally a metaphor." 
"He meant those seeking him.  And yet most Christians slam the door to the kingdom of heaven in their faces like Jesus said of the Pharisees, putting heavy burdens on them without lifting a finger to help them (Matthew 7)." 
"My friends died never knowing how much Jesus loved them too, Mom.   I tried to tell them but I was just one Christian.  And when they got AIDS, no church would even call them back.  I don't want to ever hear of that happening again from a single Christian, it grieves MY soul." 


Mom"Well, I didn't mean to cause World War III and I'm sorry you don't like my pastor." 


Me:  "Now mom, I never said I didn't like your pastor, I've never met him and from what I've heard, he sounds like a very kind man.  We just don't agree on this topic." 
"We've all, as Christians, been conditioned to believe certain doctrines that aren't actually supported in scripture, particularly what Christ himself said, and when it comes down to what Christ said versus anyone else in the bible, I choose Christ."  
"And World War III?  Hardly, that's a bit dramatic.  We're not arguing, I'm not angry, you're not angry.  I'm just telling you my interpretation of the bible versus yours.  


Mom:  "Well, do you believe that Jesus is the son of God and died for your sins?" 


Me: "Of course, I do, but what does that have to do with the price of tea in China?  When did Christians start to equate stances on LGBTQ or abortion or my political party with whether I'm a Christian or not, or believe Jesus is the son of God who died for our sins? 
"There's something very wrong with that - those are  entirely  separate issues, but only one of them is a requirement for being a Christian."  
"We are Christians because we believe Jesus is the son of God and died to redeem us from sin - period.  All this other stuff is up for interpretation and debate." 


Mom:  "Well, I didn't mean to get into all this." 


Me:  "Well, I didn't mean to get so passionate, but you did already know how I felt about LGBTQ." 


Mom:  "Well, I know how you used to feel, but I thought maybe you'd changed opinions. Regardless, I don't want to discuss this, I don't want my faith shaken." 


Me"I hope you don't think I'm trying to shake your faith?  Because I'm not, but I can see where if a new or different interpretation of what we've been conditioned to believe might be difficult to accept, but the song remains the same about Christ and his message." 
"My faith is actually strengthened by this interpretation, I'm actually encouraged by this interpretation of Christ on gender issues, because it means that more people I know that have beautiful souls and also believe in Jesus will make the cut - who also happen to be gay."


"But I apologize for my passion, this is a sore spot with me because of the way my friends died, hope you can at least understand that plays a part in my vehemence.  I worry that Christians are 'slamming the door to the kingdom of heaven' in their faces and about their suicide." 

So I don't think that ended well. I think I may have upset her, which was not my intent, but I absolutely would not change a word of what I said, just the vehemence.

Two things that didn't come up that I want to address are often given as arguments to my "case," here, are what Jesus said about Marriage just two chapters earlier. in Matthew 19:

3 The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? 
4 And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, 
5 And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  
6 Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.  
7 They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away?  
8 He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.  
9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.  
10 His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.  
11 But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. 
12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.


Now you may be saying to yourself, "What? Just three chapters later, he talks about marriage not being spiritually important in heaven, but now he's going off about it."

Again, this is why the audience and context are important - and he gives you a clue about those at-first-glance differing answers in this passage.

Again, he is talking to now the Pharisees, also trying to trick him.  And he knows the underlying reason for the question is to justify wanting to "put away" or divorce their wives, you see.

And the reason we know this is because he expressly states it: "Because of he hardness of your hearts."

So it's not that he's being contradictory, he knows the motivation for their question - the hardness of their hearts, wanting to put away their wives - not because she was unfaithful -  but because they just didn't want her anymore  ;)

The other argument I encounter is the woman at the well in John 4:

4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a]) 
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 
17 “I have no husband,” she replied. 
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

This story is clearly not really about water.

It's also not about marriage nor adultery  - even less than the story of stoning the prostitute is - though most Christians think both stories are about sex and marriage.

In fact, both stories - the woman at the well AND the prostitute-stoning story - are about the worth of women to Jesus versus the law at that time :)

Because first of all, she's a Samaritan and Jews didn't even speak to Samaritans, they thought they were beneath them - but Jesus wasn't racist like that.

Secondly, because she is Samaritan, Jesus knew she wasn't held to Levitcan or Mosaic marriage law, and in Samaria, you could marry and divorce as many times as you like and marriage wasn't even required. 

Lastly and most importantly, Jesus isn't chiding her on having five previous husbands, in fact, he isn't chiding her at all - he recognizes her as having those different husbands and men - which was common and legal in Samaria for women - because she was searching for something emotionally that she wasn't getting fulfilled through men, a thirst that could only be quenched by satisfying her spirit :)

But let's talk the word "adultery."  

In the Old Testament, the words "na'aph" and "moichos" were both used for adultery - but they have very different meanings.  


"Na'aph" means being unfaithful or infidelity in Hebrew - breaking a covenant - and was often used interchangeably to mean moichos, but not always - because it is also used to describe unfaithfulness or infidelity to God (i.e., the 10 commandments).

"Moichos" means literal sex outside of your marriage - but what may not be realized is this rule did not apply to men under Levitican law UNLESS the sex was with a woman betrothed to another man as his property.

Often, these words were used interchangeably in the bible because infidelity/unfaithfulness most often means in a marriage, but infidelity is, by its literal definition, breaking trust. 

For women, on the other hand, sex outside of marriage was always moichos.

Because the female population has always been larger than males, men could have more than one wife or concubines for social insurance -  especially if taken in the spoils of war, especially in earlier Israelite civilization.

Divorce was legal, but only by men, and only if his wife committed moichos. 

Prostitution was forbidden, but still common.

Shakab or rape, male or female was illegal - and again, there was no word for anal sex.  

Mischeve or homosexuality was illegal.

And again, the context of this is because they wanted to increase their population and also ensure legal inheritance and provision for children. 


Only one wife, no concubines.

You could divorce and remarry. 

Though you couldn't have concubines, you could legally have sex with your slaves or a prostitute and it wasn't considered adultery.  

Adultery or sex outside of marriage with a "free woman" - any woman who was not a slave, not a prostitute, married or not, was illegal. 

(Again, it was illegal because it would produce illegitimate children or children's whose true father would not be known and may not be legally recognized and provided for - social insurance.)

Homosexuality or Παιδεραστεια in Koine Greek was legal and widely practiced, actually considered a sexual alternative when not wanting to produce children from sexual activity.

Malakos means effeminate men.

ἀρσενοκοῖται or arsenokotai means   "male prostitution."

Paul used the last two terms in the bible, but what we don't know is if he was ignorant about the subject, he was knowingly using these terms for specification, or if he was referring to all gay males as prostitutes/whores, no one knows for sure. 

Regardless, like most things in the bible, sexual "sin" isn't sin because sex is just a bad thing or engaging in sexual acts without being married makes you a bad person - it's because before there was birth control, children might be produced from it and wouldn't be provided for or inherit properly.

HOWEVER, both God and Jesus were not fans of unfaithfulness and deception, either to themselves or those we love because it breaks trust, causes pain and breaks covenants/promises.

On that note and lastly, let's look at the last verse in the Matthew 19 excerpt above, Matthew 19:12: 

12 For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

What does he mean, "eunuch from their mother's womb?

Well, let's look at the Koine Greek translation of the word, "Saris," which means castration, physically  or emotionally celibate; not engaging in traditional sex acts with a woman, either by physical inability or by choice.

So when they were "saris" from their mother's wombs, does he mean biologically, or by choice, like priests?

We don't know - but what we do know that some men did not engage in sexual acts with a woman since they were born, but they are mentioned in a separate group from men who were eunuchs by choice for religious purposes - why?

I'm not saying he's condoning homosexuality here, but what I am saying is that he did recognize that there were some men not interested in women since birth for religious purposes and that there was a separate group of or "since birth" - but we don't have clarification on what he meant, physically or by choice.

I'm not sure we can say what that means, but what we CAN say is that the bible doesn't say what most Christians and Christian doctrines think it does on homosexuality OR marriage, and the reason Christ gave different answers on marriage to different people was because of their underlying motivation in asking the questions :)

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