Monday, December 8, 2014

Scripture-Quoting Pissing Contest

I started this petition which has been receiving lots of support:

Allow legally married same-sex couples to stay together at the City Union Mission homeless shelter.

I shared it on my Facebook page, which triggered an argument from a conservative Christian friend of mine who is not gay-affirming. When my friend argued that homosexuality goes against the word of God, a scripture-quoting pissing contest began (I confess: I started it) when I shared this photo and comment:


As a Christian, I have made a decision to follow the path of Jesus. If the Bible is the world of God, and in the Bible Jesus is quoted saying the two most important commandments are to love God and love people, then it stands to reason that loving people includes giving a family shelter when they need it.

My friend responded by sharing three passages from the Bible: Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, and 1 Timothy 1:8-11.

I was taken aback by the harsh, judgy language. My friend was quoting from something called the New American Standard Bible (NASB). I had never heard of that translation until my friend shared it.

That's the thing about trying to argue about what exactly it is that Jesus said. Many Christians say well just read the Bible! But which translation? To me, it's all a game of telephone. It's words spoken in Aramaic by Jesus and transcribed into Greek text by his disciples, then later translated into English by MANY different people. It's mind-blowing how many translations of the Bible there are. Take a look at this cool website that offers a huge array of Biblical translations in many different languages:
https://www.biblegateway.com/

Too bad Jesus wasn't a writer instead of an oral storyteller. But still, then I'd have to learn Aramaic. Ain't nobody got time for that.

So I took a look at the specific chapters of the Bible my friend shared in her effort to prove that being gay goes against the word of God, and I compared them to other translations, including some in Greek even though I don't know the language, hoping one of you might be able to translate it for us.

Holy shit! Look at the differences:

Romans 1:26-27 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is [a]unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing [b]indecent acts and receiving in [c]their own persons the due penalty of their error.

Romans 1:26-27 The Message (MSG)

26-27 Worse followed. Refusing to know God, they soon didn’t know how to be human either—women didn’t know how to be women, men didn’t know how to be men. Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches.

Romans 1:26-27 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

Romans 1:26-27 King James Version (KJV)

26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.

ΠΡΟΣ ΡΩΜΑΙΟΥΣ 1:26-271550 Stephanus New Testament (TR1550)

26 δια τουτο παρεδωκεν αυτους ο θεος εις παθη ατιμιας αι τε γαρ θηλειαι αυτων μετηλλαξαν την φυσικην χρησιν εις την παρα φυσιν

27 ομοιως τε και οι αρρενες αφεντες την φυσικην χρησιν της θηλειας εξεκαυθησαν εν τη ορεξει αυτων εις αλληλους αρσενες εν αρσεσιν την ασχημοσυνην κατεργαζομενοι και την αντιμισθιαν ην εδει της πλανης αυτων εν εαυτοις απολαμβανοντες

ΠΡΟΣ ΡΩΜΑΙΟΥΣ 1:26-27SBL Greek New Testament (SBLGNT)

26 Διὰ τοῦτο παρέδωκεν αὐτοὺς ὁ θεὸς εἰς πάθη ἀτιμίας· αἵ τε γὰρ θήλειαι αὐτῶν μετήλλαξαν τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν εἰς τὴν παρὰ φύσιν, 27 ὁμοίως τε καὶ οἱ ἄρσενες ἀφέντες τὴν φυσικὴν χρῆσιν τῆς θηλείας ἐξεκαύθησαν ἐν τῇ ὀρέξει αὐτῶν εἰς ἀλλήλους, ἄρσενες ἐν ἄρσεσιν τὴν ἀσχημοσύνην κατεργαζόμενοι καὶ τὴν ἀντιμισθίαν ἣν ἔδει τῆς πλάνης αὐτῶν ἐν [a]ἑαυτοῖς ἀπολαμβάνοντες.

And this one:

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor [a]effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 The Message (MSG)

9-11 Don’t you realize that this is not the way to live? Unjust people who don’t care about God will not be joining in his kingdom. Those who use and abuse each other, use and abuse sex, use and abuse the earth and everything in it, don’t qualify as citizens in God’s kingdom. A number of you know from experience what I’m talking about, for not so long ago you were on that list. Since then, you’ve been cleaned up and given a fresh start by Jesus, our Master, our Messiah, and by our God present in us, the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

9 Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, 10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none of these will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9-11 King James Version (KJV)

9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

ΠΡΟΣ ΚΟΡΙΝΘΙΟΥΣ Α΄ 6:9-111550 Stephanus New Testament (TR1550)

9 η ουκ οιδατε οτι αδικοι βασιλειαν θεου ου κληρονομησουσιν μη πλανασθε ουτε πορνοι ουτε ειδωλολατραι ουτε μοιχοι ουτε μαλακοι ουτε αρσενοκοιται 10 ουτε κλεπται ουτε πλεονεκται ουτε μεθυσοι ου λοιδοροι ουχ αρπαγες βασιλειαν θεου ου κληρονομησουσιν 11 και ταυτα τινες ητε αλλα απελουσασθε αλλα ηγιασθητε αλλ εδικαιωθητε εν τω ονοματι του κυριου ιησου και εν τω πνευματι του θεου ημων

ΠΡΟΣ ΚΟΡΙΝΘΙΟΥΣ Α΄ 6:9-11SBL Greek New Testament (SBLGNT)

9 Ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ἄδικοι [a]θεοῦ βασιλείαν οὐ κληρονομήσουσιν; μὴ πλανᾶσθε· οὔτε πόρνοι οὔτε εἰδωλολάτραι οὔτε μοιχοὶ οὔτε μαλακοὶ οὔτε ἀρσενοκοῖται 10 οὔτε [b]κλέπται οὔτε πλεονέκται, [c]οὐ μέθυσοι, οὐ λοίδοροι, οὐχ ἅρπαγες βασιλείαν [d]θεοῦ κληρονομήσουσιν. 11 καὶ ταῦτά τινες ἦτε· ἀλλὰ ἀπελούσασθε, ἀλλὰ ἡγιάσθητε, ἀλλὰ ἐδικαιώθητε ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου [e]Ἰησοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν.

And this one:

1 Timothy 1:8-11 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 [a]and [b]immoral men [c]and homosexuals [d]and kidnappers [e]and liars [f]and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

1 Timothy 1:8-11 The Message (MSG)

8-11 It’s true that moral guidance and counsel need to be given, but the way you say it and to whom you say it are as important as what you say. It’s obvious, isn’t it, that the law code isn’t primarily for people who live responsibly, but for the irresponsible, who defy all authority, riding roughshod over God, life, sex, truth, whatever! They are contemptuous of this great Message I’ve been put in charge of by this great God.

1 Timothy 1:8-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

8 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it legitimately. 9 This means understanding that the law is laid down not for the innocent but for the lawless and disobedient, for the godless and sinful, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their father or mother, for murderers, 10 fornicators, sodomites, slave traders, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to the sound teaching 11 that conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.

1 Timothy 1:8-11 King James Version (KJV)

8 But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing 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 murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.

ΠΡΟΣ ΤΙΜΟΘΕΟΝ Α΄ 1:8-111550 Stephanus New Testament (TR1550)

8 οιδαμεν δε οτι καλος ο νομος εαν τις αυτω νομιμως χρηται 9 ειδως τουτο οτι δικαιω νομος ου κειται ανομοις δε και ανυποτακτοις ασεβεσιν και αμαρτωλοις ανοσιοις και βεβηλοις πατραλωαις και μητραλωαις ανδροφονοις 10 πορνοις αρσενοκοιταις ανδραποδισταις ψευσταις επιορκοις και ει τι ετερον τη υγιαινουση διδασκαλια αντικειται 11 κατα το ευαγγελιον της δοξης του μακαριου θεου ο επιστευθην εγω

ΠΡΟΣ ΤΙΜΟΘΕΟΝ Α΄ 1:8-11SBL Greek New Testament (SBLGNT)

8 Οἴδαμεν δὲ ὅτι καλὸς ὁ νόμος ἐάν τις αὐτῷ νομίμως χρῆται, 9 εἰδὼς τοῦτο, ὅτι δικαίῳ νόμος οὐ κεῖται, ἀνόμοις δὲ καὶ ἀνυποτάκτοις, ἀσεβέσι καὶ ἁμαρτωλοῖς, ἀνοσίοις καὶ βεβήλοις, πατρολῴαις καὶ μητρολῴαις, ἀνδροφόνοις, 10 πόρνοις, ἀρσενοκοίταις, ἀνδραποδισταῖς, ψεύσταις, ἐπιόρκοις, καὶ εἴ τι ἕτερον τῇ ὑγιαινούσῃ διδασκαλίᾳ ἀντίκειται, 11 κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς δόξης τοῦ μακαρίου θεοῦ, ὃ ἐπιστεύθην ἐγώ.

I think it's interesting that my friends' translation, the New American Standard Bible, is the only one that uses the word "homosexual". It's especially interesting since the word "homosexual" wasn't invented until over 1800 years after Jesus died. Hey translator of the NASB: the lady doth protest too much, methinks.

And yet the Scripture I quoted, which happens to be my favorite and kinda the only part of the Bible I pay attention to because it's so simple and so profound, is translated relatively similarly in all versions of the Bible:

Matthew 22:36-40 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the great and [a]foremost commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 22:36-40 The Message (MSG)

The Most Important Command
34-36 When the Pharisees heard how he had bested the Sadducees, they gathered their forces for an assault. One of their religion scholars spoke for them, posing a question they hoped would show him up: “Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” 37-40 Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Matthew 22:36-40 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37 He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Matthew 22:36-40New King James Version (NKJV)

36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΤΘΑΙΟΝ 22:36-401550 Stephanus New Testament (TR1550)

36 διδασκαλε ποια εντολη μεγαλη εν τω νομω 37 ο δε ιησους ειπεν αυτω αγαπησεις κυριον τον θεον σου εν ολη τη καρδια σου και εν ολη τη ψυχη σου και εν ολη τη διανοια σου 38 αυτη εστιν πρωτη και μεγαλη εντολη 39 δευτερα δε ομοια αυτη αγαπησεις τον πλησιον σου ως σεαυτον 40 εν ταυταις ταις δυσιν εντολαις ολος ο νομος και οι προφηται κρεμανται

ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΤΘΑΙΟΝ 22:36-40SBL Greek New Testament (SBLGNT)

36 Διδάσκαλε, ποία ἐντολὴ μεγάλη ἐν τῷ νόμῳ; 37 ὁ [a]δὲ ἔφη αὐτῷ· Ἀγαπήσεις κύριον τὸν θεόν σου ἐν ὅλῃ [b]τῇ καρδίᾳ σου καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ [c]τῇ ψυχῇ σου καὶ ἐν ὅλῃ τῇ διανοίᾳ σου· 38 αὕτη ἐστὶν [d]ἡ μεγάλη καὶ πρώτη ἐντολή. 39 Δευτέρα [e]δὲ ὁμοία [f]αὐτῇ· Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν. 40 ἐν ταύταις ταῖς δυσὶν ἐντολαῖς ὅλος ὁ νόμος [g]κρέμαται καὶ οἱ προφῆται.

I personally prefer The Message. It's the most accessible to my modern eyes. I struggle with the language of the other translations. The Message translates Romans 1:26-27 as this:

Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love.

I interpret that quote to mean not that God hates fags, as the Westboro Church wants you to believe, or that God thinks gays are sinning by going against the word of God, as less crazy but still uber-conservative Christians want us to believe. I interpret that quote to mean that God wants us to love each other, to treat our sex partners with love and dignity and respect, not "all lust, no love".

And don't even get me started on the term sodomite. A sodomite is a rapist, not a gay person engaging in a loving sexual relationship with another consenting adult.

Love God. Love people. It's really as simple as that. The rest of the Bible is a game of telephone, a translation of a translation of a translation. We're never going to get all the words right, so how 'bout we focus on the word love?