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Bailey’s Pervert - The False Homosexual

By Carman Bradley

A piece in the British journal Gay Times announced that ‘Sex between gay men and lesbians is coming out of the closet’…Now people talk openly of their opposite-sex-same-sexuality lovers and at the party after the SM Pride March a gay man and a lesbian had sex on the dance floor, but it wasn’t heterosexuality.  ‘You can tell.’  As critic Jo Eadie points out, what ‘you can tell’ here above all is that bisexuality is being edited out of consciousness, or disavowed. ‘Opposite-sex-same-sexuality’ enshrines ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ as the real, identifying, and in this gay context reassuring sexualities of the participants.  That ‘it wasn’t heterosexuality,’ and that ‘you’ (the insider) can know that and ‘tell’ it, whether to yourself or to like-minded others, is presented as a boundary-keeping consideration, a border guard against permeable and politically dangerous transgression.[i]

What about the famous rallying cry, “Feminism is a theory, lesbianism is a practice?”  These days the tendency of shifting sexual preferences manifests itself in a label like “L.U.G.,” for “Lesbian Until Graduation.”  The description that implies “She was oh-so-close with her dorm-mates,” magazine 10 Percent comments sardonically of the typical L.U.G., “But that was then, and this is…adulthood.”  If women who are frequently attracted to men and frequently have sex with them are “lesbians,” then it becomes quite clear that, in these women’s eyes at least, “lesbian” is a cultural and political designation rather than - exclusively - a narrowly drawn sexual one.  “Our clumsy categories of gay, bisexual and straight are political divisions, primarily, much more than descriptive categories.”[ii] Elizabeth Reba Weise said as much at a National Bisexual Conference in 1990, where she was “a bit uncomfortable” declaring herself a bisexual.  “The label doesn’t seem as solid as the lesbian label.  Because to declare yourself bisexual is to declare, really, that labels don’t mean anything.  So it seems paradoxical to declare this as an identity.”[iii]

When Derrick S. Bailey published Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition, in 1955, the notion of the bisexual was classified as “very doubtful,” indeed; the idea of a continuum of sexual orientation, as developed by Alfred Kinsey, was problematic to Bailey’s premise.  Bailey wanted to establish a revolutionary idea of fixed, innate sexual orientations, freeing homosexuality from moral judgment.  His invert construct gained a large following in spite of contradictory scientific evidence.  After all, what sense does it make to call all of the activities and fantasies around same-and-other-sex relationships by a single name?  Is it really appropriate to include in the same category:

(1) a man who after ten years of marriage declares that he is gay, moves to San Francisco, and takes up a lifestyle of multiple male partners, phone sex with men, and gay activism; (2) a woman who was politicized by the feminist movement in the seventies and becomes a lesbian because she believes that real intimacy in a patriarchal culture is only possible with other women; (3) a couple who, like Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson in the earlier part of this century, or like Time magazine’s featured pair and hundreds of others today, remain happily married to one another and each have affairs with members of their own sex; and (4) young men and women who ‘come out’ as bi rather than gay or straight in high school, without passing through a ‘phase’ of gay or straight identity?[iv]

Moreover, if Bailey had accepted the Kinsey format, he would have to acknowledge that the continuum is limiting in its inability to handle other important dimensions of sexual preference.  Notably by itself, the continuum fails to capture how bisexuality may take different forms:

There is simultaneous bisexuality (having separate relations with one man and one woman during the same period of time), and serial or sequential bisexuality (having sex with just men or just women over a period of time, and just the other sex over another period of time).  This shows the danger, of relying on relatively simple scales to capture the complexity of people’s siociosexual relations.[v]

Contemporary gay author Gore Vidal contends there are no inverts:

There is no such thing as a homosexual person, any more than there is such a thing as a heterosexual person. The words are adjectives, describing sexual acts, not people.  Those sexual acts are entirely natural; if they were not, no one would perform them….The human race is divided into male and female.  Many human beings enjoy sexual relations with their own sex, many don’t; many respond to both.  The plurality is the fact of our nature and not worth fretting about…The dumb neologisms, homo-sexual and hetero-sexual, are adjectives that describe acts but never people.[vi]

At the time, Bailey was a member of a small informal group of Anglican clergymen and doctors, studying homosexuality, who reported in The Problem of Homosexuality, which was produced for the Church of England Moral Welfare Council by the Church Information Board, in 1954.  He disclaimed that others in the group agreed with “his” thoughts, which were that societal attitudes to homosexuality were set in the Middle Ages, anchored in Christian dogma of the period and had changed little.  He said:

It is important to understand that the genuine homosexual condition, or inversion, as it is often termed, is something for which the subject can in no way be held responsible; in itself, it is morally neutral. Like the normal condition of heterosexuality, however, it may find expression in specific sexual acts; and such acts are subject to moral judgment no less than those which may take place between man and woman.  It must be made quite clear that the genuine invert is not necessarily given to homosexual practices, and may exercise as careful a control over his or her physical impulses as the heterosexual; on the other hand, those who commit sexual acts are by no means always genuine inverts.  This suggests a rough but serviceable distinction between the invert proper, and those who may be described as perverts.  The pervert, as the term implies, is not a true homosexual, but a heterosexual who engages in homosexual practices. …The pattern of ‘perversion’ is thus one of remarkable complexity, from which some have concluded that there exists a third type, the so-called ‘bisexual’; but this is very doubtful. …An invert can often engage in heterosexual acts (though to some these are abhorrent), just as a heterosexual can act as a pervert; but in each case the condition of the person concerned is unambiguous.[vii]

In order to move society from a “Middle-age” attitude towards homosexuality, Bailey had to discredit or overcome internalized letter and verse of Christian Scripture. The most prominent feature in the tradition, being that God declared his judgment upon homosexual practices once and for all time by the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Overlooking thousands of years of consistent Biblical hermeneutics Bailey concluded the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah had nothing whatever to do with such homosexual practices.  He wrote:

…the interpretation of the Sodom story generally received by Western Christendom turns out to be nothing more than a post-Exilic Jewish reinterpretation devised and exploited by patriotic rigorists for polemical purposes.  Thus disappears the assumption that an act of Divine retribution in the remote past has relieved us of the responsibility for making an assessment of homosexual acts in terms of theological and moral principles.  It is no longer permissible to take refuge in the contention that God himself pronounced these acts ‘detestable and abominable’ above every other sin, nor to explain natural catastrophes and human disasters as his vengeance upon those who indulge in them.  It is much to be hoped that we will soon hear the last of Sodom and Gomorrah in connection with homosexual practices – though doubtless the term ‘sodomy’ will always remain as a reminder of the unfortunate consequences, which have attended the reinterpretation of an ancient story in the interests of propaganda.[viii]

Having dismissed in his estimation, Sodom and Gomorrah as irrelevant, Bailey turned to the rest of the Scriptural material relating to homosexual practices.  Regarding the Old Testament, he argued:

They stand as a witness to the conviction shared by the ancient Hebrews with other contemporary peoples that homosexual practices are peculiarly disreputable, and deserve exemplary punishment as unnatural indulgences, incompatible with the vocation and moral obligations of the People of God.[ix]

After this conclusion he advised:

This view may not greatly assist the legislator or the sociologist for whom the sanctions of religion are not absolute, but it cannot be lightly dismissed by the Church – although it may eventually need some qualification by the moral theologian in light of further scientific discovery and of a reconsideration of the morality of sexual acts as a whole.[x]

It is really with the New Testament that Bailey tries to silence Scripture with his invert-pervert paradigm.  He explained his view this way:

St Paul likewise denounces homosexual practices as inconsistent with membership of the kingdom of God, but our knowledge of life in the social underworld of the first century enables us to set his words in their correct context.  He specifically mentions the arsenokoitai or active sodomists, and the malakoi or passive sodomists (who were often prostitutes or exsoliti), both of whom are familiar enough from the pages of Petronius and others; and it can hardly be doubted that he also had such types in mind when writing to the Romans of those men who, ‘leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness’ – the last a phrase sufficiently wide in meaning to cover every kind of homosexual indulgence  practiced by the vicious of that or any other age.  Although St. Paul does not expressly refer to corrupters of youth or paidophthoroi, we may be certain that he intended his condemnations to include them.[xi]

Here, then, we have decisive Biblical authority for censoring the conduct of those whom we may describe as male perverts, such as the depraved paederasts and catamites of the Satyricon; but do the Apostle’s strictures apply also to the homosexual acts of the genuine invert, and in particular to those physical expressions of affection which may take place between two persons of the same sex who affirm that they are ‘in love’?  To such situations it can hardly be said that the New Testament speaks, since the condition of inversion, with all its special problems, was quite unknown at that time. …As we survey the development of this tradition it becomes evident that the effect of the reinterpreted Sodom story upon the mind of the Church was in fact more profound than that of either the Levitical laws or the teaching of the New Testament.[xii]

Nevertheless it has at least been established beyond controversy that in many cases sexual inversion is an inherent and apparently unalterable condition – though its causes and character still need careful and detailed investigation….What principles ought to direct our moral judgments upon the sexual conduct of the genuine invert?  Here the Christian tradition affords us little guidance, for it knows only one kind of sexual behavior – that which would be termed perversion; thus to one of the most perplexing ethical questions of our time it has at best but an indirect and dubious relevance.[xiii]

The male invert, whether practicing or not, generally maintains that homosexual acts are, for him, entirely ‘natural,’ and that coitus with a woman would be nothing less than a perversion.  Hence he would claim that it is unjust and illogical to deny him, should he so desire, the right to express himself and to seek physical satisfaction and relief in acts appropriate to his condition – provided no harm accrues to society or to any individual as a result.[xiv]

Bailey was instrumental in inaugurating a committee, which published a document in 1957 called the Wolfenden Report after its chairman.  The report recommended that homosexual behavior between consenting adults, in private, be no longer a criminal offence.  Bailey’s thesis that the Christian tradition has misread the account of the judgment on Sodom in Genesis 19 undercut the popular notion that toleration of homosexual behavior was a sign of national decay, and helped to lay a theoretical basis for the adoption of the Wolfenden recommendation by Parliament in 1967.  His handling of Genesis 19 argues that the inhabitants of Sodom did not intend a homosexual rape of the angels accompanying Lot, and that the real sin of Sodom was its violation of the duty of hospitality to strangers, which was part of a general pattern of wickedness described elsewhere in Scripture as including pride, gluttony, adultery, deception and injustice.[xv]

Again, as in the case of Bailey’s distinction between inversion and perversion, few interpreters who are not themselves homosexuals have adopted his view on the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah.  A simple reading of the Sodom story in Genesis 19 is enough to refute Bailey’s thesis that inhospitality was the sole and major sin of the Sodomites.  When Lot offers hospitality to the two “men,” the evil males of Sodom encompass the house to try to force Lot to send the guests out crying: “Bring them out to us, that we may know them” (19:5).  Lot tries to divert their intention to his two daughters, virgins “who have not known man” (19:8).  The evil men persist, however, in wanting the male guests, hence sealing the doom of Sodom.  Since the Hebrew verb, “to know,” can be used in the sense “to have sexual intercourse with,” and since the use of that word with regard to Lot’s daughters demand a sexual meaning, it has traditionally been thought that the men of Sodom intended to violate the bodies of the male guests.  Most recent interpreters who defend some forms of homosexual activity stress that the only sin we can be sure of here is rape, but this is also a very unreliable argument.

Although, acknowledging that the Hebrew terms used for rape do not appear in the account, Robin Scroggs, author of The New Testament and Homosexuality, says:

Any claim, however, that the story is a blanket condemnation of homosexuality in general is unjustified.  The attempt on the bodies of the guests is but an example of the general evil, which has already caught God’s attention.  It is, furthermore, an attempt at rape.  The most that can be said is that the story judges homosexual rape to be evil and worthy of condemnation.[xvi]

However, the Israelite who was acquainted with Leviticus would view the use of force simply as aggravation of a practice, which was in itself condemned by God as sinful.[xvii]

Jerry Kirk, author of The Homosexual Crisis in the Mainline Church, writes, “The central question in interpreting the passage is, what were the men of Sodom seeking when they called upon Lot to bring out the men – ‘that we may know them’” (Genesis 19:5)?  Kirk comments on this question: 

Virtual unanimous interpretation of this passage for over twenty centuries has been that the motivation of the men of Sodom was homosexual lust linked with murderous hostility.  This overwhelmingly predominant position has been held by John Calvin; Martin Luther; Karl Barth; The Westminster Study Bible; the New English Bible; Brown, Driver, and Briggs (authors of the Hebrew Lexicon of the Old Testament); Gerhard von Rad; Bruce Metzger; William Everett Harrison; Paul Jewett; and Donald Williams.

Bailey teaches that since Lot was a sojourner he had no right to extend hospitality to these foreigners.  The men of Sodom, by their inhospitality, were sinning against the ancient practice of hospitality.  Bailey ultimately concludes that the Sodom story has no reference to homosexual practice at all….David Barlett of the Chicago Theological Seminary, a supporter of gay theology, disagrees with Bailey directly. ‘The integrity of the story indicates that what is at issue in each instance is intercourse, and not just getting acquainted.’…After all, unless all modern biology is amiss, Adam went far beyond ‘getting acquainted’ with Eve to populate planet Earth.  For the Scripture tells us, Adam knew his wife.[xviii]

Scroggs explains that only with the codification of the Priestly Code in the fifth-fourth centuries B.C. does an explicit law emerge which deals with male homosexuality in general (Leviticus 18:22; 20:13).  Scroggs noted that Leviticus 18 has a clear literary structure.  At the beginning and end are warnings against practices of the Egyptians and Canaanites.  In between are listings, presumably, of what these abhorred practices were, with prohibitions against doing them:

Do not give any of your children to be sacrificed to Molech [god of Ammonites] for you must not profane the name of your God.  I am the Lord (21).

Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable (22).

Do not have sexual relations with an animal and defile yourself with it.  A woman must not present herself to the animal to have sexual relations with it; that is a perversion (23).

Scroggs says that although there is no technical term for homosexuality in Hebrew, the guidance is obvious:

Nevertheless the meaning is clear.  Shakav is frequently used to denote sexual intercourse; thus the sentence is a general prohibition of male homosexuality.[xix]   


There is more to note than the lack of a technical term and the use of a euphemism (shakav) for intercourse.  What is critical is the general word for ‘male’ is used, without any qualification of age.  This lack of qualification will determine the language of all future Jewish discussions, no matter what forms of homosexuality are being attacked….Paul is no exception to this rule.[xx]

Writing on the topic “Homosexuality as a Gentile Vice” Scroggs discovered that for rabbis of the period, homosexuality is certainly a Gentile, not a Jewish sin.  He writes:

We have already noted that the reply to the opinion that two Jewish males should not sleep under the same cloak is that ‘Israel is not suspected’ of such activities.  In an interpretation of Leviticus 18:3, where Moses warns the Israelites not to imitate the vices of Egypt and Canaan, one vice attributed to the pagans is both male and female homosexual marriage.  Occasionally this attitude reaches into legal or quasi-legal discussions.  One tradition warns against sending a Jewish youth to a Gentile to study, learn a trade, or even to be alone with – obviously for fear the youth will be used for pederastic purposes….According to a later rabbi, one [decree] was designed to protect Jewish youths from Gentile homosexual lust.  All Gentile youths were declared by the Shammaites to be legally ill with gonorrhea so that Jewish youths could not be tempted to associate with them for homosexual purposes (although this shows the temptation was feared to be a real possibility).[xxi]

On the topic “Jewish Homosexuality,” Scroggs writes:

The question has to be raised about evidence for homosexual activity among the Jews themselves of this period, however much ‘Israel is not suspected.’  To the best of my knowledge, there is only one story in the literature about an event contemporary to the rabbis themselves, and this is reported of a rabbi from the later period.  Judah ben Pazzi once climbed to the upper story of a beth midrash (the Jewish schoolhouse) and discovered two males having intercourse with one another.  They said to him, ‘rabbi, take note that you are one and we are two.’  The point of the retort is that two witnesses who agree are necessary in a Jewish court to prove wrongdoing.  The men could falsify their witness and the rabbi’s single affirmation could not overrule theirs, no matter how false theirs was.  The point for us, however, is that the rabbi discovered two males, doubtlessly Jewish and knowledgeable about the legal niceties, having homosexual intercourse.[xxii]

From his search of other historical sources Scroggs concludes:

Jewish culture in its official form was entirely opposed to male homosexuality and, presumably, to female as well….The discussion is entirely directed toward the sexual act and its culpability.  Nothing is ever said about any other possible dimension of the relationship.  Indeed, from discussion alone, one would assume a homosexual encounter to be only for purposes of sexual gratification, as if other qualities of a possible friendship either were irrelevant, unimportant, or perhaps non-existent.[xxiii]

Scroggs comments on Leviticus 18:22, 20:13 translated faithfully:

It is important to see the words the translator chose….With a male [arsen] you shall not lie the intercourse [koitē:lit. ‘bed’] of a woman’ (18:22)….And whoever lies with a male [arsen] the intercourse [koitē] of a woman.  Both have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, they are guilty (20:13).[xxiv]

Turning to the New Testament writings, I shall continue to draw primarily from Robin Scroggs studies.  Under the title “Homosexuality and Idolatry,Scroggs cited a text, which likely predates the Christian era.  In this early correspondence, the Letter of Aristeas, which purports to describe the origin of the Greek translation of the Bible, the unknown author contrasts the piety and sexual righteousness of the Jews and their legal code with the activity of “the majority of other people.”  Among the sins of the Gentiles are male homosexuality and incest.[xxv] In the Wisdom of Solomon there is a possible reference to homosexuality, which if it should prove to be the case, would signal an early linkage in Jewish thought between idolatry and homosexuality, a relationship that Paul knows and describes in Romans 1.  In this treatise the author claims that idolatry is the cause of all Gentile sins.  He first makes a specific reference to sexual sins: “For the beginning of sexual evil is the invention of idols.”  Later, he broadens this: “For the worship of unspeakable idols is the beginning, cause, and end of every evil.”[xxvi]

Writes Scroggs:

Under the guise of oracular utterances of ancient prophets, a Jewish literature arose which passed judgment on Gentiles and gave comfort to the Jewish community.  In these writings, called The Sibylline Oracles, several passages refer to pagan pederasty, sometimes in relation to idol worship.  In one the ‘prediction’ is made that Roman culture will permit males to draw near to males and that boys will be placed in shameful brothels.[xxvii]

In another the rise of the pious nation of the Jews is “predicted;” in contrast to pagans they will not worship idols, and shall preserve sexual purity, not “having unholy union with male children” as do many other nations (several are named explicitly).[xxviii]  God will punish these nations for this sin and for the worship of idols.  Clearly sexual crime and idol worship are closely united, although it is not clear which is cause and which the effect.  Relationship between the two is indicated in still another passage.  The reader is exhorted to flee unlawful worship and to worship the living God, to abstain from adultery, child exposure, and unceasing (or confused) intercourse with males.[xxix]

Another text, The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, (if it is indeed Jewish) may possibly give further evidence of the relationship Jews felt between idolatry and sin.  Scroggs writes:

The patriarch Naphtali counsels his children to remain true to God’s will.  Then abruptly he adds a warning.  Sun and moon and stars do not change their order; thus also you must not change the law of God in the disorder of your deeds.  Deceived Gentiles who left the Lord changed their order and followed stones and trees, following spirits of deceit.  Be not like this, my children, knowing in the firmament, earth, and in sea, and all things made, the Lord who makes all of these, that you become not like Sodom, which changed the order of its nature.  Likewise the watchers changed the order of its nature[xxx]….The phrase, ‘to change one’s order,’ is curious and seems here equivalent to leave what is true and subvert it into a false reality.[xxxi]  For the Gentiles to change their order means to leave their proper relationship to the deity and live in a false world with false deities.  To remain in true relation with the creator God is thus a defense against that changing of the order of nature which is attributed to the Sodomites.  Although the phrase is strange and unparalled in our other references to Sodom, I do not see to what other fact the author could be alluding except the homosexual inclinations of the Sodomites.  If so, then not to change the order of relationship to God will mean not to violate one’s heterosexual nature.  The association of homosexuality with idolatry is thus well respresented in Hellenistic Judaism prior to Paul.[xxxii]

Scroggs concludes that the early Christian Church echoed the Jewish tradition.  The clearest text is found in Romans 1: 18-28:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised.  Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.  Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.  In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another.  Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.

According to Scroggs, three points of clarification need to be made.  The first is that the phrase, “God gave them up,” means that people now living in the false reality do what they choose.  God does not force them into such false actions; his judgment lies in his leaving them where they want to be, in actions that, as already suggested, they think to be good and right.  This is the ultimate irony of their fate.  The second, is that Paul heaps up anthropological terms – heart, body, passions, mind – apparently to indicate that this false reality permeates a person’s entire existence.  All dimensions of one’s self are distorted by false reality in which he or she lives.  The third relates to the use of the illustrations Paul chooses.  The structure of the passage shows that for heart-body Paul gives no illustration.  That which illustrates passion (emotions) is a traditional Hellenistic Jewish judgment on homosexuality.  For the third, the unfit mind (i.e. that which cannot judge between what is true and what is false) Paul inserts the most detailed and vigorous vice catalogs in all his letters (Romans 1:29-32).[xxxiii]

Scroggs explains that although Paul makes judgment on homosexuals, he is “not out to get them” anymore than other sinners.  In considering the text applied to women, which reads, “For not only did their females exchange natural intercourse for that which was against nature…,” Scroggs writes:

Taken independently of the verse directed at men, it would not be certain that this clause referred to female homosexuality at all.  Indeed some have suspected it could refer to various positions of heterosexual intercourse deemed deviate by pious Jews.  It could as well be hinting at artificial phalli, which we know were used by women of the day to stimulate themselves – although such stimulation could take place in the context of homosexual encounters.  Since the following verse is without question an attack on male homosexuality, however, and since the two verses are so closely linked in the Greek, it is virtually certain that Paul and the tradition on which he is dependent had lesbianism in mind.[xxxiv]

Scroggs also draws attention to the phrase:

Receiving the punishment (literally reward) within themselves, which their falsehood necessitated.

He observes that there have been two interpretations.  Either Paul is hinting at physical disease (perhaps venereal) which homosexual intercourse could cause, or he counts the distortion of homosexuality itself as the punishment.  The latter seems to Scroggs the most likely, given the reference in that phrase to the false reality in which people now live.[xxxv]

In conclusion Scroggs asks, “What can we learn from these verses about Paul’s reflections on homosexuality?”  He responds:

First, Paul’s primary purpose in this entire section is to describe the fall of humanity into false reality in which it now lives….He does say at the end of the entire section that those who live this way ‘deserve to die’; doubtless this culpability includes the price of homosexuality and all of the other sins listed in the vice catalog.  Yet one would be hard put to find in the Old Testament specific injunctions against all the items in the catalog, much less statements of liability to the death penalty for all of them.  Thus what Paul probably has in mind, in reference to the death penalty, is the basic sin of the refusal to acknowledge God as God.  This is the root of sin and thus is the root of the life that is displeasing to God, which ultimately results in death.[xxxvi]

Scroggs also says that:

Paul is dependent for his judgment that it [homosexuality] is against nature ultimately on Greek, not Jewish sources.  There it rests not on some doctrine of creation or philosophical principles, but on what seemingly is thought to count as common-sense observation.[xxxvii]

He found no Greco-Roman text that attempts to explain why homosexuality is against nature.  Thus contends Scroggs, Paul makes no attempt either:

For him idolatry results in a false world with a false self, that is, unnatural.  The false self finds homosexuality pleasing and sees nothing wrong in what is for the Apostle a deflection of desire from opposite sex to same sex.  Thus for Paul passions directed toward people of the same-sex are illustrative of the false self.  Paul, no more than the Greeks and Jews, attempted not to explain his argument.  Perhaps he could not.  Perhaps it seemed obvious to him, given his Jewish presuppositions.[xxxviii]

After presenting his analysis, Scroggs asks “Does this data suggest Greek authors knew of a non-pederastic male homosexuality?  Answering yes, he cites three examples:

When male (arsen) unites with female (thelus) for procreation, the pleasure experienced is held to be due to nature, but contrary to nature when male mates with male or female with female (Plato, Laws I, 636C)

Whence until now the desires of animals have involved intercourse neither of male [arsen] with male nor of female [thelus] with female.  But [there are] many such among your noble and good [classes] (Plutarch, Beasts are rational 999D).

Do not transgress the beds of nature for unlawful passion.  Male [arsen] beds do not please even the beasts.  Nor shall females [here a derivative from thelus is used] imitate the beds of males (Pseudo-Phocylides, Maxims, lines 190-92)[xxxix]

These statements have in common with Paul’s several features: they are general, nonspecific judgments; they use the terms for male and female which are not age-differentiated; they all make negative judgments on homosexuality.  To this should be added that Plato explicitly and Plutarch implicitly share with Paul the argument from nature.  Seen in this regard, Romans 1:26-27 could be seen as a commonplace of Greek moral wisdom.[xl]  The second century Christian apologist, Tertullian, writes on homosexuality:

All other frenzies of lusts which exceed the laws of nature and are impious toward both bodies and the sexes we banish, not only from the threshold, but also from all shelter of the Church, for they are not sins so much as monstrosities.[xli]

Yet in the end, Robin Scroggs chooses to believe Scripture is unclear on homosexuality!  This interpretation lies in the obstinate belief (notwithstanding the contrary evidence) that there is a substantial difference in the nature of homosexual relations today over those addressed in the Bible.  And this myth can, and must, also be deconstructed.


Copyright © 2008 StandForGod.Org

[i] Majorie Garber, VICEVERSA (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995), p.47.

[ii] Ibid., pp.45 and 46.

[iii] Ibid., p.47.

[iv] Ibid., p.31.

[v] Ibid., p.42.

[vi] Ibid., p.42.

[vii] Derrick S. Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition (London: Bailey, Longmans, Green and Company, 1955), p.xi.

[viii] Ibid., p.155.

[ix] Ibid.

[x] Ibid., pp.155 and 156.

[xi] Ibid., p.155.

[xii] Ibid., p.158.

[xiii] Ibid., pp.168 and 169.

[xiv] Ibid., p.169.

[xv] Richard F. Lovelace in Homosexuality and the Church (USA: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1978), p.34.

[xvi] Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1983), p.74.

[xvii] Lovelace, p.100.

[xviii] Jerry R. Kirk, The Homosexual Crisis in the Maineline Church (New York: Thomas Nelson, 1978), p.54.

[xix] Scroggs, p.72.

[xx] Ibid., p.72.

[xxi] Ibid., p.81.

[xxii] Ibid., p.83.

[xxiii] Ibid., p.84 .

[xxiv] Ibid., pp.85 and 86  .

[xxv] Ibid., p.92.

[xxvi] Ibid.

[xxvii] Ibid., p.93.

[xxviii] Ibid.

[xxix] Ibid.

[xxx] Ibid., p.94.

[xxxi] Ibid.

[xxxii] Ibid.

[xxxiii] Ibid., p.113.

[xxxiv] Ibid., p.114.

[xxxv]Ibid., p.116.

[xxxvi] Ibid.

[xxxvii] Ibid., p.117.

[xxxviii] Ibid.

[xxxix] Ibid., p.131.

[xl] Ibid.

[xli] John J. McNeill, The Church and the Homosexual (Mission Kansas: Sheed Andrews and McMeel, 1976), p.89.