Author "Calling the Rainbow Nation Home"
The "Clobber" Passages
The more I’ve searched Scripture, the more convinced I am that homosexuality is not a sin. Nor has God relegated us to a life of celibacy! So this begs the question: if it’s so obvious that ones sexual orientation is not in and of itself a ‘sin’, why do so many in the church condemn homosexuality?
I believe two important factors come into play, fear and prejudice. When you fear something, you wish to get away from it. To most people, this means pretend it doesn't exist, subdue it, change it, or destroy it. Fear is not from the Lord - it operates in satan's kingdom (1 John 4:8,18). Yet we build complete belief systems around our fears and prejudices, and people fight change. There is no getting around the fact that it’s far easier to understand how one can be gay and Christian when one is gay and Christian.
I have also found it common for those who consider homosexuality an 'abomination' to ‘prove’ their cause by quoting every scripture they can find pertaining to sexual sin and promiscuity. It is important to understand that we Christians in the gay community also are a hundred percent against sexual sin. The difference lies in the fact that we do not believe God has singled out any particular community or nation of people as ‘evil’ or ‘sinful’, believing instead that God’s edicts are applied without prejudice to all peoples and communities; homosexual and heterosexual alike. Therefore before calling homosexuality a sin, one should interrogate Scripture to find if this premise is even true. Unfortunately, many well meaning Christians are just repeating what they have heard from the pulpit or attempting to frame God’s will around their prejudices and fears.
For this reason it is important to understand what God does have to say concerning homosexuality. While there is much debate amongst Bible scholars if any scriptures specifically address homosexuality there are eight references that are commonly used by some to condemn gays. These are commonly referred to as "the clobber passages” or the "big eight". Of these eight, only six are still used with any regularity as two have been accepted by most as not pertaining to homosexuality. Four of these (Genesis 19:1-5, Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 23:17) are found in the Old Testament while the other four (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 1 Timothy 1:9-10, Romans 1:21-31 and Jude 1:6-7) are located in the New Testament. The two that have been widely discarded are Deuteronomy 23:17 and Jude 1:6-7. While some argue we should simply ignore these debatable references, I believe it is important to understand what the Lord is trying to teach us through these verses as every word in the Bible is meant for our teaching, correction and reproof (2 Timothy 3:16).
When studying these passages, one of the obstacles we face is that the original text was written in Hebrew (Old Testament), and Greek (New Testament) and only later translated into English. By later, we do mean much later as the first English version of the Bible that gained a relatively wide distribution was the Tyndale Bible in 1534 AD and later still the King James translation in 1610 AD. Right or wrong, many of our present day doctrines are based on these early translations or offshoots from these works.
Interpreters do not have an enviable task. In many cases, the ‘old’ English word used in the King James and other early translations has little or no meaning to us today (e.g. the word “catamite”) or has totally changed it’s meaning (e.g. “effeminate”). Another problem is that in many cases the original text was meant to be used as an example, or in a figurative rather than in a literal sense. For example, "all eyes on the chalkboard" in the literal sense asks us to physically place our eyes in contact with the chalkboard. In the figurative sense, this phrase means, "look up at the chalkboard and give me your undivided attention".
However our biggest challenge lies in the fact that the English language is very limited when compared to the Greek dialect. This problem was highlighted with the word “love”. In the Greek language there are at least three different words to describe various forms and attributes of love, while in English we lump all three together with the single word “love”. This is not very descriptive and cannot begin to convey the levels of intensity with which we may love someone or something.
With this in mind, you can see why inadvertently during translation, verses can take on a meaning that was never intended. In other words, God's perfect word may get muddied when man attempts to give the Lord a hand in translating His book! This is apparent with the scriptures that many attribute to homosexuality.
In our effort to find God’s original intent in these passages we will discuss the literal translation from the Greek and Hebrew texts. In addition, many times two or three translations of the same verse is given. Finally we will use a “common sense” approach as God isn’t going to tell us something ‘out in left field’. Every interpretation must ‘line up’ with other Scriptural truths and commandments (e.g. the law of love). God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33) and "every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses" (2 Corinthians 13:1). In short, scripture will interpret scripture and our conclusions should make logical sense. If they don’t then we have missed it and we need to start again.
As we begin our study of these six Scriptures it’s important to note that these versus can be grouped into four basic categories. These four are:
In addition, we will cover the two scriptures now widely believed to be NOT pertaining to homosexuality. We discuss them because a few still use these versus against homosexuals. These two are:
Finally we will cover Jesus' teaching on the issue.
 The first English translation that gained a fairly wide following was the Wycliffe translation in 1380AD. While this version influenced later translations it never gained much of a following with the ‘man-on-the-street’ because the printing press had not yet been invented and copies were extremely rare and expensive to come by.
For a more in depth look at this subject read "Calling the Rainbow Nation Home"
by Rev. Sundby
Counter reset 9/16/2005