During the last 30 – 40 years, North American society has gradually come to accept, and provide legal protection for, practicing homosexuals. Parallel to this, there has been a growing number of Christians arguing for the modification of the traditional Christian view on homosexuality. These arguments involve the conclusion that the church should accept adult same-sex relations, usually of a monogamous nature. Since the Bible contains a number of passages where homosexual relations appear to be condemned, this requires new understandings of these passages. My interest in this paper is to examine these new interpretations.
I am not interested in those views of the Bible which simply reject certain biblical prescriptions or prohibitions if they clash with their own understandings. Rather, I am interested in those biblical interpretations which claim that an acceptance of the authority of the Bible does not require the conclusion that homosexual relations between adults are wrong. The contention is that such relations are permissible. My paper will examine the arguments that follow this track, giving critical evaluations of them.
It should be noted that most authors use two or more of the following arguments in their explanations of the biblical passages on homosexuality. In my analysis and evaluation, I will examine them individually, categorizing them according to the nature of the arguments.
1. LINGUISTIC ARGUMENTS
These arguments deal with specific terms used in biblical texts that have been interpreted to condemn homosexual practice. The contention here usually is that certain terms have been misunderstood and thus mistranslated. It is this misunderstanding that has led to the church’s wrongful condemnation of homosexual practice.
Such arguments are worthy of honest consideration. If misunderstood or mistranslated words are the basis for certain conclusions, then corrections should be made. The proper understanding of words in the Bible is important for our formulation of Christian practice. An obvious example is the current debate over the exact meaning of authentein in I Tim. 2:12 as something that Paul does not permit women to do “over men.” We turn our attention to those arguments that involve the understanding of terms that have led to the traditional condemnation of homosexuality.
A. yada’ in Genesis 19 & Judges 19
The work in this century which has become the foundational study for all later innovating theological approaches to homosexuality is D. Sherwin Bailey’s, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition. One of Bailey’s major arguments concerning the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Gen. 19 hinges on the understanding of a linguistic term. He contends that the homosexual interpretation of this incident is based on a misunderstanding of Gen. 19:5, where the men of Sodom surrounding Lot’s house say: “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we may know [yada’] them.” The interpretation which views this as homosexual activity translates the verb yada’ as “have sex with” [NIV]. Bailey claims that this interpretation is a late development in intertestamental literature. He admits that Jude 7 allows for a homosexual understanding of Gen. 19 when it speaks of Sodomites going after “strange flesh.” But he suggests that these references derive from intertestamental references, and may refer to the legend of sexual relations between humans and fallen angels in the Book of Jubilees.
Bailey argues that the inhabitants of Sodom did not intend homosexual relations with or rape of the angels. In asking to “know” the angels, they were asking to “get acquainted with” the strangers. Lot, who himself was a foreigner among them, was entertaining strangers whose intentions were unknown, perhaps hostile. The real sin of the men of Sodom was the violation of the duty of hospitality to strangers.
Bailey’s argument relies on the fact that the Hebrew word yada’, found in Gen. 19, is rarely used in a sexual sense. While found in the Old Testament 943 times, it is used in a sexual sense only 10 times, and then always for heterosexual acts. He points out that other Old Testament references to Sodom (Jer. 23:14; Ezek. 16:49-50) never refer to their sin as homosexuality.
Bailey sees Judges 19 as an account shaped into its final form after the kingship of Saul. The contention is that this narrative assimilated elements of the Sodom story, and added a sexual connotation to yada’, foreign to the original account, to portray Saul’s tribe, the Benjamites, in a negative light.
While a word count is helpful, it is not the crucial factor in interpreting a term in a passage. The key consideration is its use in the context. The context demonstrates that the demand of the men of Sodom was to have intercourse with the angels. This is evident in Lot’s attempt to appease their desire to “know” the angels by offering them his two daughters who have never “known” (yada’) a man (Gen. 19:8). While Bailey suggests that the offer of his daughters “was simply the most tempting bribe that Lot could offer on the spur of the moment to appease the hostile crowd”, this stretches our credulity. Similarly, in Judges 19:23, when the men of Gibeah demand to “know” (yada’) the stranger, his host offers them his own virgin daughter and the visitor’s concubine. The concubine is given over to the men who “know” (yada’) her all night. The clear meaning here is rape. Thus, the obvious conclusion is that yada’ is used consistently in both instances to refer to sexual intercourse. Even a number of those advocating the acceptance of homosexual activity reject Bailey’s interpretation here, and accept that the sin of the groups of men was sexual.
Thus, the sin of the two groups of men in Sodom and Gibeah is, in both instances, the desire to engage in homosexual rape. But there is validity in connecting this sin to the violation of the norm of hospitality. There is weight to the suggestion that the desire to rape the visitors is less the expression of homosexual desire and activity per se, and more the use of forcible homosexual rape to express dominance over the strangers. This practice occurred in the Ancient Middle East when armies were defeated, and it occurs today in certain all-male settings, such as prisons. This is supported by the fact that in both instances, when women were offered to the men, both groups of men initially rejected the offer. The conclusion, more clearly for Sodom than for Gibeah, is that the goal of homosexual rape is the male inhabitants’ desire to express their dominance over the strangers.
B. Malakos and arsenokoitai in I Cor. 6:9 & I Tim. 1:10
Another major linguistic argument is presented in John Boswell’s book, Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. His argument involves the interpretation of the Greek terms malakos and arsenokoitai found in I Cor. 6:9, with the latter term also found in I Tim. 1:10.
In I Cor. 6:9, Paul states that among those who will not inherit the kingdom of heaven are malakoi and arsenokoitai. In I Tim. 1:10 Paul states that the law is made for lawbreakers, the ungodly, the sinful, etc., among whom he includes (pornoi and) arsenokoitai. Boswell notes that it is these two terms that have been used to exclude homosexuals from the kingdom of heaven.
Boswell insists that malakos, whose root meaning is ‘soft,’ means “licentious,” “loose,” or “wanting in self control” in a moral context. He argues that it is “wholly gratuitous” to apply this to homosexuals. “The word is never used in Greek to designate gay people as a group or even in reference to homosexual acts generically.” The unanimous tradition of the church through Middle Ages, the Reformation and Catholicism into the twentieth century was to understand this word as applying to masturbation. With that no longer censured, Boswell claims that the condemnatory sense of this term has been transferred to homosexuals, especially because of its connection with the term arsenokoitai. Scanzoni and Mollenkott suggest that malakoi could well be translated as “self-indulgent.” In I Cor. 6:9 they claim that it refers to men who think of nothing but chasing after women for the sake of sexual conquest. Although Scanzoni and Mollenkott differ from Boswell in their view of the exact meaning of malakoi, they agree with him in insisting that it is improper to understand this term as referring to homosexual behaviour.
The thrust of Boswell’s linguistic argument has to do with the term arsenokoitai, used by Paul in both I Cor. 6:9 & I Tim. 1:10. He claims that this term meant “male prostitute” to Paul and his contemporaries, and it maintained that meaning well into the fourth century. It was only much later that it was confused with and applied to homosexuality.
Boswell’s argument involves two components. The first entails the exact meaning of this term. Since examples of its usage are difficult to find prior to Paul, the meaning of the compound word must be determined from the two parts of the compound and the way they function together. These are: arsen and koitai. The first part, arsen is generally agreed as referring to males. The second part, koitai, refers to sleeping. Boswell argues that the second part stresses the coarseness and active licentiousness of the sleeping denoted, and is equivalent to the coarse English word, “fuc**r,” that is, the one who takes an active role in intercourse. He also maintains that in no compound words with the prefix arseno- is it ever used as an object of the second half of the compound. It always has an adjectival sense, denoting the gender of the second half of the compound. This understanding leads Boswell to conclude that arsenokoitai refers to “active male prostitutes.” The term says nothing about the sex of those served by the prostitutes; they could be either male or female.
The second component of Boswell’s argument entails the usage of arsenokoitai in the first two or three centuries of the church. He contends that this term is never used by the patristic Greek writers of the early church. He supports this with the further claim that from the time of the apostle Paul in the first century until Aquinas in the thirteenth century I Cor. 6:9 and I Tim. 1:10 played no role in the development of Christian European attitudes toward homosexuality.
David F. Wright has presented a devastating critique of Boswell’s linguistic arguments. He points out that in all other similar compounds ending in -koites the first half specifies the object of the sleeping, or its scene or sphere. That is, the first part always functions in an adverbial sense. This is because koites has a verbal force, in most not all instances, arseno denotes the object. Hence, the compound word refers to those who sleep with males, and denotes “‘male homosexual activity’ without qualification.”
Wright also surveys the use of arsenokoites, as well as arsenokoiteo and arsenokoitia, in the patristic literature. Not only does his survey find that church fathers from Eusebius to Chrysostom use these terms to condemn male homosexual activity, but he also discovers numerous appeals to I Cor. 6:9 and I Tim. 1:10 for the same purposes. This certainly undermines Boswell’s claims concerning the early church. And it calls into question his scholarly ability, if not his scholarly integrity.
Another element in Boswell’s argument is his claim that no early Christian writers appealed to Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 as having authority in condemning homosexual acts. Wright points out that it is precisely this claim that prevents Boswell from seeing the Septuagint translation of these two verses as the probably source of arsenokites and related terms. The Septuagint translates the Hebrew as follows:
Lev. 18:22 – meta arsenos ou koimethese koiten gunaikos
Lev. 20:13 – hos an koimethe meta arsenos koiten gunaikos
The use of the terms arsenos and koiten in both verses, especially their juxtaposition in 20:13, presents an obvious parallel to Paul’s use of arsenokoitai. Since it is clear that the Hellenistic Jews condemned the homosexuality they encountered in the Greek world, the reasonable conclusion is that arsenokoitai came into use in the intertestamental period, under the influence of the Septuagint of Leviticus, to designate that homoerotic activity the Jews condemned. The plausible conclusion is that the verses in Leviticus not only encouraged the formation of the term but also informed its meaning.
2. BIBLICAL AUTHORS LIMITED BY THEIR SOCIAL HORIZON
This sort of argument maintains that the particular comments that the biblical authors make concerning homosexual activity in their writings should be confined to the actual practices that occurred in their social and cultural contexts. In other words, their comments cannot be applied to the kinds of behaviours that occur in different contexts, such as our own, which did not occur in the Ancient Middle East or in the Roman empire of the first century. Our understanding of the remarks of the biblical authors must take into account their limited social horizons.
A. Prohibitions Confined to Idolatrous and Cultic Practices
John J. McNeill, James Nelson and Peter Coleman argue that the specific instructions given in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13, which are part of the Holiness Code, must be understood in the context of cultic defilement. This is supported by biblical commentaries on Leviticus by Martin Noth and Norman Snaith, and by Marvin Pope’s article on “Homosexuality” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. The use of the Hebrew word ‘abomination’ [to ‘ebah] in this context clearly relates this to Canaanite idolatry and to the rituals–sexual or otherwise–practiced in it. Israel’s prostitution and sexual practices characteristic of Canaanite fertility worship. Such sexual rituals expressed the view that sexuality was a mysterious sacred power, related to the power of the deity that was worshiped. This is why Canaanite worship frequently involved overt sexual acts. Israel was required to reject all such pagan practices both to affirm the transcendence of God and to distinguish Him from all creaturely powers.
The conclusion that is drawn from this is that with the change of the social horizon, such injunctions are no longer valid. Or if they are, the reason for their continuing applicability must be found elsewhere than their inclusion in the Levitical Holiness Code. Nelson asks:
What is the principle of selection by which cultic injunctions against homosexual acts are held valid today but at the same time most other parts of the Holiness Code are deemed irrelevant?… And how shall a church which grounds its life in the grace of Jesus Christ deal with the law codes of ancient Israel?
Given the historical distance between the culture of ancient Israel and our own, and given the abrogation of the authority of the law codes of the Old Testament with the coming of Christ, the burden of proof rests with the interpreter to demonstrate why certain elements of Israel’s law code still apply today.
A similar argument is used to interpret Rom. 1:18-23, a passage traditionally taken as the strongest New Testament rejection of homosexuality. McNeill and Nelson argue that Paul’s initial comments on pagan idolatry form the context for his comments on homosexual acts. Paul is concerned about the influence of paganism, especially its sexual practices, on the Roman Christians. McNeill expounds Paul’s view in Romans 1 as follows: “One is not idolatrous because he is a homosexual; he is, however, involved in homosexual activities because he is idolatrous.” The focus of Paul’s concern is not the homosexual acts per se, but rather the idolatry within which the homosexual acts are performed. Nelson maintains; “In this passage while Paul sees homosexual acts as a result of idolatry, he does not claim that they are the cause of divine wrath.” The cause of the wrath is the idolatry. The conclusion of this approach for contemporary homosexuality is clearly stated by Scanzoni and Mollenkott: “Although the censure [in Rom. 1] fits the idolatrous people with whom Paul was concerned here, it does not seem to fit the case of a sincere homosexual Christian.”
The description of a male homosexual act as an ‘abomination’ (Lev. 20:13) does not necessarily mean that the activity is more cultically associated with idolatry than any other sexual perversion. Lev. 18:24-30 and 20:22-24 indicate that this activity, along with the other mentioned, was characteristic of the Canaanite inhabitants about to be driven out, and probably had as an idolatrous base. But this does not warrant the conclusion that homosexual acts were condemned purely because of their cultic association.
Sherwin Bailey notes that homosexual coitus is meaningless in the context of the ritual of a fertility cult, with its heterosexual rationale. There is no evidence that it was ever practiced in this connection. Bailey concludes that the two prohibitions in Leviticus “relate to ordinary homosexual acts between men, and not to ritual or other acts performed in the name of religion.” While as an ‘abomination’ is associated with idolatry in Leviticus, it is extended to whatever reverses the proper natural order. Because homosexual acts reverse the natural order of sexuality, they manifest the subversive spirit of idolatry. But they require no direct connection with religious practices to warrant condemnation.
Those holding the view that none of the Old Testament Holiness Code is applicable to believers after Christ have a rebuttal. Scanzoni and Mollenkott argue that it is inconsistent to condemn twentieth century homosexuality, but not eating rare steak, wearing mixed fabrics, and having sexual intercourse during the woman’s menstrual period. They support their argument for viewing homosexuality as merely ceremonial by noting that female homosexuality is not mentioned at all.
In response, two points can be made. First, the fact that practices are condemned within the Holiness Code does not preclude the fact that they have a moral force apart from their connection with ritual purity. We are not always forced to choose between ritual and moral import, but can find the two concerns coinciding in injunctions in the Holiness Code. Second, it is certainly clear that the ceremonial regulations–those expressing purity in outward forms–are abrogated after the coming of Christ (cf. Acts 10:9-15; Acts 15:19-21). But numerous other prohibitions–such as those against incest (Lev. 18:7), adultery (Lev. 18:20), and bestiality (Lev. 20:15-16)–are readily acknowledged to have abiding significance, even though they are included in the Holiness Code. As Ukleja notes: “A moral unity exists between the Old and New Testaments.” That is because the character of God, which is the basis for His standard of righteousness, has not changed.
The argument that Romans 1 is a condemnation of idolatry, not of homosexual practice, misses the flow of Paul’s argument in Rom. 1:18ff. Certainly, Paul’s analysis of the corruption of human culture begins with idolatry. “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator” (1:25). But this is the first manifestation of the refusal to worship God. Paul moves on to discuss a pattern of degeneration within society by which humans bear the impress of God’s judgment, evident in the repeated phrase, “God gave them over.” The disorder of idolatry leads to a disorder of the emotional life, manifested in dishonourable passions which lead to homosexuality. Finally, there is the general disorder of human relations, leading to all kinds of strife. Paul’s point is not simply that God’s wrath is directed against idolatry. It is that all three representative phenomena–idolatry, homosexuality, and social strife–manifest the wrath of God in human culture. If one is going to argue that the second form of disorder is subsumed under the firs, namely, idolatry, one should also include the third form of disorder, namely, strife. But, this would lead to the unacceptable conclusion that since they are both the result of idolatry, then it is only idolatry, their cause, which is the object of the wrath of God.
B. Prohibitions Confined to Pederasty
Robin Scroggs gives another type of argument that views the biblical writers as being limited by their social horizons. He maintains that the only form of homosexuality that Paul was aware of was pederasty. Since he did not have in mind loving, long-term relations between consenting adults, the condemnations in his letters do not apply to such contemporary relationships.
In his study of homosexuality in the New Testament Scroggs lays the framework for his argument by presenting the nature and social role of pederasty in Greek culture from Plato to the first century. Pederasty involved a voluntary relationship between an adult male and a pre-puberty boy, where the adult received sexual satisfaction from the boy, and the boy received education, wisdom, gifts, and whatever other honours might come from the older man. Because the relationship was characterized by inequality and impermanence, it could result in the humiliation and abuse of boys. But the point of Scroggs’ study of the various ancient texts is that there is no evidence that “homosexual relations existed between same-age adults.”
Scroggs notes two distinctions which he believes are important for understanding the New Testament texts. The first distinction is between men who were in love with beautiful boys, and those who sought out male prostitutes for sex. The second distinction is between boys who voluntarily entered into pederastic relationships with men for benefits received, and older free youths–designated ‘call-boys’–who became prostitutes, enacting the passive sexual role for money. Because the ‘call-boys’ attempted to prolong their youthful appearance and to imitate the appearance of women through cosmetics, letting their hair grow and wearing female clothing, they were frequently charged with being “soft” and “effeminate.”
When he turns his attention to Paul’s letters, Scroggs notes that the three letters in which Paul mentions homosexuality are all addressed to churches in the Greco-Roman world. In this social setting pederasty is the norm for homosexual practice. Insofar as these references speak of male homosexuality, they must oppose one form or another of pederasty, contends Scroggs, since that was the only form of homosexuality known to Paul.
Scroggs argues that this is born out by the terms Paul uses in these three passages. In I Cor. 6:9 Paul includes malakoi and arsenokoitai among those who will not inherit the kingdom. Scroggs claims that malakoi, which literally means “soft,” and by extension “effeminate,” is used in several tests to refer in a pejorative manner to the ‘call-boy.’ It refers to such a person within the context of pederasty always in a negative way. The term arsenokoites refers to the adult who takes the active role in the sexual encounter that involves the call-boy. He “must be the active partner who keeps the malakos as a ‘mistress’ or who hires him on occasion to satisfy his sexual needs.” Scroggs concludes that I Cor. 6:9 condemns only “a very specific dimension of pederasty.”
In I Tim. 1:10 Paul includes pornoi and arsenokoitai among the lawbreakers. Scroggs contends that, while pornoi is used to refer to sexual offenses in general, its juxtaposition with arsenokoitai here suggests the same relationship as between malakos and arsenokoites in I Cor. 6:9. His conclusion is that here again we find the condemnation of “that specific form of pederasty which consisted of the enslaving of boys or youths for sexual purposes, and the use of these boys by adult males.”
Scroggs maintains that Paul’s attitude toward homosexuality expressed in Rom. 1:26-27 contains arguments ultimately from Greek sources informed by Hellenistic Jewish propaganda against Gentiles. The argument that they abandoned natural relations [phusiken chresin] for unnatural ones para phusin] is the argument “from nature” found repeatedly in Greco-Roman attacks on pederasty. Thus, Scroggs concludes that, while Paul uses more general prohibitions in Rom. 1, he must have had pederasty in mind, and perhaps the most degraded form of it, when he attacked homosexuality in Rom. 1.
Scroggs’ conclusion after examining these three New Testament passages is: “Thus what the New Testament was against was the image of homosexuality as pederasty and primarily its more sordid and dehumanizing dimensions.” Since the model that Paul was condemning in the New Testament is different from today’s model of “a caring and mutual relationship between consenting adults,” we cannot apply his condemnation to today’s model. According to Scroggs, not only are Paul’s judgements against homosexuality not relevant to today’s debate, but cannot know what Paul’s view of contemporary homosexuality is.
I think we can concede to Scroggs that Paul had primarily pederasty in mind in his three references to it in his letters. We accept this from the evidence, which Scroggs presents, that this was the predominant form of homosexuality mentioned in Greek and Hellenistic Jewish texts. But it is also evident that Paul had other forms of homosexuality in mind when he refers in Rom. 1:26 to women who “exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones.” Scroggs himself admits to being amazed that Paul refers to female homosexuality here, since it is never referred to in any Jewish and Greco-Roman discussions. His contention is that Paul is merely repeating the standard arguments against pederasty found in Greco-Roman and Hellenistic Jewish texts. Hence, Scroggs’ amazement is understandable, given his thesis that Paul’s condemnation merely borrows from the preformed tradition and has only pederasty in mind (especially the more sordid expressions of it). But such amazement is readily dispelled if one understands Paul’s condemnation of pederasty to be the result, not of simply repeating the standard Greco-Roman and Hellenistic Jewish tradition, but of drawing upon the general biblical prohibition against same sex relations. He applies this not merely to men with men [arsenes en arsesin (1:27)], but also to unnatural sexual relations [chresin para phusin] between women [theleiai] (1:26).
Scroggs’ argument that Paul has only pederasty in mind in the use of malakoi and arsenokoitai in Cor. 6:9 is based on the fact that Paul borrows these terms from the condemnations of pederasty by Hellenistic Jews. The problem with this claim is that Scroggs provides no references for any such sources. Furthermore, his understanding of the term arsenokoites as the active homosexual partner, (clearly a term coined in Hellenistic Judaism or in Christianity), is based upon his claim that it is a literal translation of the Hebrew term mishkav zakur (literally, “lying with a male”), used by rabbis in their condemnations of pederasty. While he acknowledges that the two parts of the compound word are found in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13, he argues for the Hellenistic Jewish term as the connecting link between these Levitical passages and Paul’s usage. But, as already noted in D.F. Wright’s response to Boswell’s explanation of the Greek term, it is much more likely that this compound term developed under the direct influence of the two parts of the compound used in Lev. 18:22 and 20:13. Wright repeats this point in his review of Scroggs’ book. The significance of this is that Paul’s usage of arsenokoites is informed by the two passages of Leviticus, which are certainly not confined to pederasty. Wright drives the point home with two pointed questions:
If Paul had wanted to condemn (a kind) of pederasty, why did he not use one of the several Greek words or phrases for it current in Hellenistic Jewish writings [e.g., paidophthoreseis]? Why did he (create or) adopt a (relatively) new, certainly unusual term inspired by a Levitical prohibition and therefore one which prima facie has a broader meaning than pederasty?
The obvious answer is that Paul’s indictment of pederasty is embraced in a more comprehensive condemnation of all homosexual behaviour, male and female.
Even if, for the sake of argument, one grants Scroggs his point concerning the historical origin of the term arsenokoites, this still begs the question as to why Paul condemns pederasty. Scroggs’ hermeneutical strategy is to argue that because Paul has only pederasty in mind, as evidenced in his use of this term, we cannot apply this to any other form of homosexual practice. But specific proscriptions in the New Testament are always applications of norms to specific situations or issues, indicating that these violate these norms. The norms are always implicit in the proscriptions. In sexuality, the biblical testimony is that then norm is monogamous heterosexual relations within marriage. If one followed Scrogg’s hermeneutical strategy for other proscriptions in the New Testament, we would be confined to a form of ethical literalism in which those things which are not explicitly condemned in the New Testament are permissible today.
3. PROHIBITION IS CONDITIONED BY LIMITED UNDERSTANDING
A. Israel’s Need for Population Growth
James Nelson maintains that a biological misunderstanding exists throughout the Bible.
The prescientific mind (particularly the prescientific male mind) assumed that the man’s semen contained the whole of nascent life…the women only provided the incubating space. Hence the deliberate spilling of semen was equivalent to the deliberate destruction of human life.
Thus the judgement for deliberate non-procreative spilling of semen, whether in coitus interruptus (as with Onan in Gen. 38:1-11), or in male homosexual acts (Lev. 18:22 & 20:13), or in male masturbation was equivalent to the willful destruction of human life, and required the same penalty as for murder.
Even if one does not accept the existence of this biological misunderstanding in the Bible, Nelson argues that one must understand the conditions of the early life of Israel in Palestine. As a small tribe struggling for its survival, procreation was of paramount importance for Israel to increase its population. Nelson argues that in such a context, Israel condemned any sexual activity that “wasted the seed” or took away from men and women’s full reproductive abilities. Given the patriarchal nature of the culture, this placed a greater responsibility on the males. This is why, Nelson claims, male homosexual acts were condemned more vigorously than similar female acts. Patriarchal sexism placed greater censure on the “deviants” of the “superior” gender.
It is clear that Old Testament legislation does include measures to ensure that male Jews have biological descendants and that their inheritance stays within their family. The levirate laws (Deut. 25:5-6) provided for the line of a married Jew to continue should he die before his wife bore him a son, through his brother’s taking his widow as his wife. We also find legislation that allowed a man’s inheritance to be passed on to his daughters if he had no sons, provided they married within their own tribe (Num 36:1-9). But the concern for male descendants and for familiar inheritance does not override moral considerations. What Nelson suggests is that the rationale for sexual behaviour is for the enhancement of the Jews’ full reproductive abilities. But this contradicts the grounds presented for these norms, namely, the holiness of God. In the midst of giving the Jews the various laws of the Holiness Code God commands Moses to tell them: “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2). While other factors may have a bearing, the underlying rationale for obedience to God’s law is that His law is the expression of His holy nature. Expediency cannot override that.
Nelson’s suggestion that the prohibition of homosexual practice is based upon the misunderstanding of the biology of procreation has no support in the biblical materials. Nowhere do we find an appeal to the sixth commandment (“You shall not murder”) to support these prohibitions. With no evidence to support his claim that these prohibitions are based on faulty assumptions, we can accept them as God’s norms for His people based upon His own holiness.
B. Failure to Understand “Natural” Homosexuality
Studies of homosexuals in the past few years have come to the conclusion that “true” or “natural” homosexuals are not those who have deliberately or consciously chosen to engage in sexual relations with members of the same sex over against their normal heterosexual drives. Rather, they have an innate orientation or propensity toward members of the same sex with the desire to engage in sexual acts with them. This means that we have to distinguish between two kinds of homosexual acts: those performed by true homosexuals, who have an innate orientation toward members of the same sex, and those performed by heterosexuals, who have an innate orientation toward members of the opposite sex. What studies by Kinsey and others have shown is that about one-third of men with heterosexual orientation engage in homosexual activity. But this is situational: it occurs when men are isolated for long periods of time and separated from women (e.g., in prisons or on ships); when they participate due to curiosity or for easy sexual indulgence; or when they suffer a traumatic event or psychic disorder. When they are not in such situations, these men manifest basic heterosexual orientations. In contrast, “true” homosexuals are those who have same-sex orientation under all normal conditions.
As this distinction has gradually gained wider acceptance, it has had an impact on the interpretation of biblical passages on homosexuality. It first appears in Bailey’s 1995 book. He uses the terms inversion and perversion to refer, respectively, to the same-sex orientation of true homosexuals and to the same-sex urges of the heterosexual in a licentious search for sexual experiences. This distinction is accepted by virtually all subsequent Christian authors who argue for the acceptance of “natural” homosexuals. If this distinction in orientation is accepted, two questions arise concerning the biblical injunctions. Is there any difference in the Bible’s evaluation between homosexual acts committed by “natural” homosexuals and by “natural” heterosexuals? What is the biblical perspective upon the homosexual orientation? We will consider the biblical answers in relation to the modern defenders of “natural” homosexuality.
While the application of this distinction between two kinds of homosexual practice to the biblical passages is first found in Bailey, it is accepted by virtually all subsequent defenders of “natural” homosexuality. The argument is that the biblical condemnation of homosexual acts, especially in the three passages in the New Testament, deals with perversion, not with inversion. Some, such as James Nelson, maintain that the biblical authors believed that all people were “naturally” heterosexually orientated. They were simply ignorant of the fact that there were people with natural homosexual orientations. Thus, their condemnations of homosexual practice is a condemnation of homosexual activity committed by heterosexuals violating their heterosexual natures. Others, such as Scanzoni and Mollenkott, appeal to the linguistic terms used in the relevant biblical passages to argue that certain very specific practices are in view. In Romans 1, where we find the most sweeping condemnation of homosexual practices, they argue that Paul’s description of these practices as “perversion” [planes], resulting from “shameful lusts” [pathe atimias], indicates that he has in mind homosexual acts committed by heterosexuals. Their conclusion is that we cannot apply the condemnations of Paul, and the other biblical authors, to the practices of “natural” homosexuals.
It is generally agreed that the key passage that stands in the way of accepting “natural” homosexual orientation is Rom. 1. The pivotal statements are in verses 26 and 27. Paul describes the women as exchanging “natural relations for unnatural ones” [ten phusiken chresin eis ten para phusin]. He also describes men as abandoning “natural relations [ten phusiken chresin] with women” and lusting for each other. How are we to accept homosexual relations if Paul describes them as “contrary to nature”?
Boswell’s exegesis of Rom. 1 attempts to deal with this problem. He claims that we must see Paul’s appeal to “nature” as not being a “question of universal law or truth, but, rather, a matter of the character of the person or group of persons.” ‘Nature’ in Romans 1:26 should be understood as “the personal nature of the pagans in question.” This clearly builds on his assumption of a distinction in sexual orientation. Further, he argues that the term para phusin cannot be synonymous with immortality, since God himself is referred to as acting against nature (Rom. 11:24). “Rather, it signifies behavior which is unexpected, unusual, or different from what would occur in the normal order of things: ‘beyond nature’ perhaps, but not ‘immoral’.” This, Boswell argues, must refer to heterosexuals who are going beyond their natural orientations by engaging in homosexual activities, activities which are “unexpected, unusual, or different from what would occur in the normal order of things.” But it does not apply to natural homosexuals, since homosexual activity is normal for them; nor does it indicate that homosexual orientation or practice is immoral.
In his argument Boswell admits that a distinction of sexual orientation is never explicitly mentioned in the Bible. However, he claims that this distinction is a necessary assumption for a proper interpretation of the New Testament passages, especially the pivotal passage of Romans
1. Thus, my remarks here will focus on Romans 1.
Paul’s comments on homosexual activity in verses 26-27 must be seen in the context of his analysis of the corruption of human culture that begins in verse 18: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness.” His analysis maintains that the fundamental sin of refusing to worship God (thereby suppressing the truth of God) results in idolatry (vv. 21-25), and the general breakdown of human relations. O’Donovan rightly states that these are the”three great representative phenomena which manifest the wrath of God in human culture.” The first point that needs to be made is that it breaks with the theme of the passage to argue, as Boswell does, that homosexual activity is not an expression of human unrighteousness.
Further, there is a logic in Paul’s thought that moves from idolatry to homosexual activity to human strife. Idolatry is that human disorder in which humans reject the biblical world-vies that there is an order in the world given by its Creator. With the loss of that order, humans first experience the effects of that in themselves, and then in human society in general. Hayes notes Paul’s repetition of the verb metellaxan in verses 25 and 26 to forge the connection: because “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator,…God gave them over to shameful lusts [so that] [e]ven their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones,” and their men “were inflamed with lust for one another.” The point is that it is homosexual desire, evident in the “shameful lusts’ [pathe atimias] and being “inflames with lust” [exekauthesan en te orexei], that manifests the internal moral confusion and disorder which results from the refusal to acknowledge the Creator. It is these desires that lead to homosexual practice. It is not a disorder merely in relation to the empirical reality in society, since it was practiced in Paul’s day, but it is a disorder in relation to God’s ordering of His creation.
Boswell’s argument that para phusin means ‘beyond nature,’ in the sense of ‘beyond one’s natural orientation’ (rather than ‘against nature’), will not stand up under careful scrutiny. Hayes points out that para phusin in all its use throughout Hellenistic philosophy and literature means “contrary to nature.” Furthermore, para phusin is frequently used in Greco-Roman moral philosophy and literary texts, as well as in Hellenistic Jewish writers (Josephus and Philo), to categorize homosexual practices as worthy of condemnation.
Paul’s use of para phusin in Rom. 11:24 to refer to God’s activity in grafting the Gentile believers, as wild olive branches, into God’s cultivated olive tree prevents us from saying that this expression always refers to immoral activity. It is the context that decides that matter. But it is precisely the context of Rom. 1:26 that leads us to conclude that homosexual behaviour is immoral.
The fact that Paul borrowed this phrase from Greco-Roman or Hellenistic Jewish sources does not take anything away from his argument in Romans 1. All it tells us is that on this issue he was in essential agreement with the negative evaluation of homosexual activity found in Greco-Roman and Hellenistic Jewish sources. As is the case with so many of the linguistic terms found in the New Testament, the meaning that Paul gives to the term is determined by his use of it in the context. And, as I have already indicated in the references to the Creator and his creation in the verses preceding Rom. 1:26-27, the context leads one to conclude that Paul is referring to a creational order.
Finally, it becomes apparent that the attempt to read the notion of a distinction in sexual orientation into Paul’s comments in Romans 1 is eisegesis, a reading of one’s own agenda into the text. There is no hint of such a distinction in the New Testament, or any other writings of the ancient world. Nor does a faithful exegesis of Romans 1 lead to the conclusion that this distinction is the necessary condition for understanding Paul’s argument.
4. APPEAL TO SCIENCE AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCE
Another type of argument for the acceptance of homosexual behaviour by “true” homosexuals involves the appeal to the personal testimony of homosexuals and to the conclusions of recent empirical studies of homosexuals. As often happens in the history of the church, new insights into issues and practices lead the church to reexamine the Scriptures in the light of these new insights. The claim is that we need to go beyond a literalism that remains fixated upon the specific injunctions found in the Bible, and that we should relate these new insights to the overarching norms flowing out of the gospel, norms such as love, liberty and equality. Specifically, this needs to occur for homosexuals and same-sex relations.
Some argue that because the Bible does not speak to the “natural” homosexual orientation–positively or negatively–norms for people in such a condition must draw upon empirical evidence. Scanzoni and Mollenkott maintain that Christians “must rely on the findings of modern behavioral science research and on the testimony of those persons who are themselves homosexuals.” The results indicate that same-sex orientation is innate, unchangeable, and fulfilled in a same-sex relationship. As we reflect upon the gospel of grace, in the light of these results, we must conclude that God’s love embraces homosexuals, and they can live out their sexuality under the gospel norm of covenant love. Thus the gospel allows for the acceptance of “permanent, committed relationship[s] of love between homosexuals, analogous to heterosexual marriage.”
Other writers concede the fact that the Bible, both in the Old and New Testaments, condemns homosexual practices. But they argue that one can come to different conclusions than the biblical authors, yet still be true to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I will focus on the views of two men who use this type of argument: David Bartlett and Gerald Sheppard.
Both Bartlett and Sheppard accept the fact that the Bible condemns homosexual practice, and that the recent exegetical attempts to deny this fail. But both also insist that one can maintain the authority of the Bible and yet arrive at different conclusions than the biblical authors. They illustrate their approach by appealing to the biblical teaching on slavery. Nowhere does the Bible condemn the practice of slavery. Yet, Christians today have come to condemn slavery because of empirical considerations: its innate inequalities and what it does to the human spirit. When the principles flowing from the gospel are brought to bear upon the empirical nature of slavery, the inevitable conclusion is the condemnation of slavery. In the same way, Bartlett and Sheppard contend that attention to recent empirical studies of homosexuality and to the testimony of the experiences of homosexuals requires a reinterpretation according to the deeper–gospel–insights of the Bible.
Appeal is made to the fact that homosexuality is “often a deep-seated and frequently unchangeable affectional preference.” The testimony of homosexuals reveals the injustice and oppression they experience at the hands of heterosexuals. The response of Christianity should not be according to the letter of the law but according to the calling of the gospel to serve one another in love. Bartlett claims that, while this is different from Paul’s specific applications to homosexuality, it is consistent with the gospel principles which are at the foundation of Paul’s ethics.
Sheppard suggests that Paul’s writings in the New Testament canon reveal some development in his own thinking as he deepened in his understanding of the implications of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What the Bible itself, as evident in the evolving views of Paul, points us to is the need to read the biblical teaching on homosexuality in search of a higher prize. “Because of advances in human knowledge, it is possible for later generations in the history of interpretation to perceive this same world created by God and revealed to us through scripture more precisely than did earlier generations. Because of the empirical evidence that “sexual orientation generally becomes fixed before the age of accountability,” and because of the desire of homosexuals to establish same-sex covenants of trust and love, Sheppard concludes that the gospel of Jesus Christ embraces homosexual persons and provides norms and rules in support of loving same-sex relationships.
It is true that historical changes and deeper insight into issues have led the church to reexamine its traditional moral teachings, sometimes leading to significant changes. But the church can do so and be faithful to its calling only when it maintains the authority of the Bible as the revelation of God’s norms for His people. It should come to Scripture in the light of experience and scientific findings in such a way as to gain a fresh appreciation of biblical teachings, but also with the humility to be corrected by God’s Word.
Personal experience is notoriously unreliable for coming to ethical conclusions, since it too is affected by sin. In the matter of homosexuality, there are conflicting experiences, not merely between heterosexuals and homosexuals, but also between homosexuals who claim to be unchangeable and those who claim to have been cured of their homosexuality. Appeal to experience alone does not settle these differences. Because the Bible embodies the authority of God over all human experience, Christians have appealed to God’s Word as the final judge of human experience, so as to distinguish sin from righteousness, and normative from anti-normative experience.
The appeal to the recent empirical findings of the social sciences on homosexuality does not settle the matter either. I think it can be conceded that for many people same-sex orientation is an innate disposition which they have not consciously chosen and cannot easily change. But the first important point to be made is that the descriptive findings of an empirical study tells us nothing about the ethical judgement that one should made about the findings. Let me illustrate with the condition of pedophilia. While I was doing research on this paper (August, 1994), my local paper had an article on a conference held by the major psychiatric institutions in Ontario on the matter of pedophilia. The article noted the uncertainty of the causes of this sexual orientation toward young children, and the difficulty in changing such orientations. Dr. Howard Barbaree, a researcher at the Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto, stated: “There is no cure for child molesters…it is something like diabetes, a lifelong problem which must be controlled through initial treatment and a system of management beyond the institution.” Note the parallels with homosexual orientation: an innate disposition, not consciously chosen, which it is very difficult to change. But it is not the empirical findings that lead to disapproval of pedophilia and a call for acceptance of homosexuality. The factors that result in the moral evaluations are social, legal. And religious.
The other important point to be made about the empirical findings about homosexual orientation is a biblical-ethical one. The argument for the acceptance of innate homosexual orientation appeals to the empirical fact that the homosexual orientation is not freely or consciously chosen, and is difficult to change. But these factors are not decisive in the biblical condemnation of sinful behavior. The fact that we are born with corrupt natures by virtue of being descendants of Adam is sufficient cause for our condemnation for that nature and for the sinful acts that result from it (cf. Rom. 5:12ff). We are not absolved from the wages of sin simply because our corrupt natures are not freely and consciously chosen by us. Similarly, Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality does not rest upon the fact that it is freely chosen. Hayes notes “it is precisely characteristic of Paul to regard ‘sin’ as a condition of human existence, a condition which robs us of free volition and drives us to disobedient actions which, though voluntary, are nonetheless culpable.” Furthermore, the existence of involuntary factors in the homosexual condition do not preclude all freedom and self-determination. Numerous articles by therapists report success rates from 30 to 70 per cent for those homosexuals seeking psychotherapeutic treatment to reverse their sexual interests. Christians, who are renewed by the gospel and controlled by the Spirit of Christ (Rom. 8:1ff), can expect the power of God at work in them to accomplish more than they ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20).
When appeal is made to the experience of homosexuals and the scientific findings about the homosexual condition in the light of the gospel, it is argued that our conclusion should be the acceptance of committed and loving same-sex relations. The claim is that this maintains the authority of the Bible. But I conclude that it is in fact the personal experience of homosexuals and the ideology of homosexuality which become the authority over the Bible. The result is a reinterpretation of biblical ethics in line with this experience and ideology. The Bible itself condemns behaviour that defends itself according to the personal testimony and empirical evidence of the condition. In addition, the whole notion of a continuing revelation or a developmental hermeneutic that goes beyond and even contradicts the clear teachings of the New Testament has severe problems associated with it. It leads us to the following conclusions: that the biblical writers, notably Paul, were in error in their condemnations of homosexual practice; that our developing consciousness in the light of modern experience and scientific studies can modify and overrule biblical injunctions; and that appeal to the normative gospel principles of love, freedom and justice can relativize New Testament teachings. Thus, the Bible ceases to be authoritative in speaking to the issues we face today. While it provides general principles, based upon the gospel, the application of these principles must be shaped by modern consciousness. The Bible has no direct bearing upon the specific form of these injunctions, nor can it judge the value of the personal testimony or empirical evidence appealed to which shapes the specific form of these injunctions.
It is my conclusion that the arguments in defense of homosexuality surveyed in this paper fail. They fail, not because an evangelical view of the authority of the Bible dismisses them a priori, but because they do not make their case on their own grounds. An examination of the biblical passages from linguistic, historical and ethical-theological perspectives fails to support the revisionist ethic and reinforces the traditional Christian teaching that homosexual practice is morally wrong.
**********footnotes********** An example of such a perspective is found in Gary David Comstock, Gay Theology Without Apology (Cleveland, Ohio: The Pilgrim Press, 1993). He states that Scripture is not an authority from which he seeks approval but a resource for guidance, which he is not afraid to criticize if it treats homosexuals badly (p. 4). Concerning Paul’s condemnations of homosexuality, Comstock says: “Those passages will be brought up and used against us again and again until Christians demand their removal from the biblical canon or, at the very least, formally discredit their authority to prescribe behavior” (p. 43).  (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1955). See John Boswell’s comments on the importance of this work in Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1980), pp. 93ff.  D. Sherwin Bailey, Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition (New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1955), p. 4.  Ibid.  Ibid., p. 3.  Ibid, pp. 9-10. In fact, Bailey raises the question whether the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah should even be seen as God’s judgement. The destruction of these two cities after this incident with Lot was probably du to gases ignited by lightening or fires. The Hews wrongly concluded that this was God’s judgment on the peoples who lived there (Ibid., pp. 6-7).  Ibid., pp. 53-57.  Don Williams makes this point in The Bond that Breaks: Will Homosexuality Split the Church? (Los Angeles: BIM, 1978), p. 60.  Bailey, Homosexuality, p. 6.  See John T. McNeill, The Church and the Homosexual (Kansas City: Sheed, Andrews & McMeel, 1976), p. 47; Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983), p. 73; David L. Bartlett, “A Biblical Perspective on Homosexuality.” Foundations 20 (1977): 134-35.  Acknowledged by Stanley Grenz, Sexual Ethics: A Biblical Perspective (Dallas: Word Publishing Co., 1990), p. 204; and Letha Scanzoni and Virginia R. Mollenkott, Is the Homosexual My Neighbour? (New York: Harper & Row, 1978), pp. 56-57.  In Gibeah, while the men do appear to be satisfied with the offer of the Levite’s concubine, their act of raping and abusing her (Jud. 19:35-26) can still be understood as a public humiliation of the Levite.  Boswell, Homosexuality, p. 106.  Ibid., p. 107.  Scanzoni and Mollenkott, Is the Homosexual My Neighbour?, pp. 68-69.  Boswell, Homosexuality, p. 107.  Ibid., p. 342.  Ibid., pp. 342-44, 351.  Ibid., p. 346.  Ibid., p. 353.  David F. Wright, “Homosexuals or Prostitutes: The Meaning of arsenokoitai (I Cor. 6:9; I Tim. 1:10),” Vigiliae Christianae 38 (June 1984): 130.  Ibid., pp. 131-32.  David F. Wright, “Translating arsenokoitai I Cor. 6:9; I Tim. 1:10), “Vigiliae Christianae 41 (December 1987): 398. This is Wright’s response to the article by W. L. Petersen, “Can arsenokoitai be Translated by ‘Homosexuals’? (I Cor. 6.9; I Tim. 1:10),” Vigiliae Christianae 40 (June 1986): 187-191, where Peterson criticized Wright’s argument, expressed in an earlier article (see note 22 above), that arsenokoitai means homosexual behavior.  Wright, “Homosexuals or Prostitutes,” pp. 132ff.  See also David F. Wright, “Homosexuality,” in Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, ed. Everett Ferguson (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1990), pp. 436-47.  For corroborating research see J. Robert Wright, “Review Article: Boswell on Homosexuality: A Case Undemonstrated,” Anglican Theological Review 66 (January 1984): 86ff.  Boswell, Homosexuality, p. 104.  Wright, “Homosexuals or Prostitutes,” p. 129  Wright calls this parallel “inescapable” (Ibid.).  Ibid., pp. 129, 145-46.  I will reserve evaluative comments on malakos for the next section of this paper.  McNeill, The Church and the Homosexual, pp 57-58.  James B. Nelson, Embodiment: An approach to Sexuality and Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing, 1978), p. 185.  Peter Coleman, Gay Christians: A Moral Dilemma (London: SCM Press/Philadelphia: Trinity Press, 1989), pp. 52-54.  “Leviticus deals almost exclusively with cultic and ritual matters” (Martin Noth, Leviticus: A Commentary [London: SCM, 1965] , p. 16).  “Homosexuality here is condemned on account of its association with idolatry” (Norman H. Snaith, Leviticus and Numbers: The Century Bible [London: Nelson, 1967] , p. 126).  Marvin Pope, “Homosexuality,” in The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Supplementary Volume (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1976), pp. 415-17.  Ibid., p. 52.  Nelson, Embodiment, p. 185.  McNeill, Church and Homosexual, pp. 54-56.  Nelson, Embodiment, pp. 186-88.  McNeill, Church and Homosexual, p. 57.  Nelson, Embodiment, p. 186.  Scanzoni and Mollenkott, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?, p. 62.  See Williams, Bond That Breaks, p. 65.  Bailey, Homosexuality, p. 53.  Ibid., p. 30.  Ibid., p. 60.  Scanzoni and Mollenkott, Homosexual, pp. 60-61.  P. Michael Ukleja makes this point in “Homosexuality and the Old Testament,” Bibliotheca Sacra 40 (July-September): 263.  Ibid., p. 265  The traditional view is to distinguish between the ceremonial, civil and moral aspects of the Old Testament law, and thus, of the Holiness Code. In this view the first two no longer apply after the coming of Christ. But this view has been questioned for a number of reasons. Firstly, for the Jews the law was a unit, without the fine distinctions into these three aspects. They were required to obey all of the law of God. Secondly, all three aspects of the law continue to have abiding force for Christians, but in a different form in the age of the gospel. The Old Testament ceremonial law was a shadow of the fulfillment in Jesus Christ. But Christians continue ceremonial practices, though in different forms after the coming of Christ. The old Testament civil law was for the people of God as a distinct nation among nations. It is no longer to be applied in that way to societies where Christians find themselves among non-Christians, though the underlying principles of justice and equity still apply. The moral law, summarized in the 10 commandments, has abiding significance. But even here, the New Testament reveals a greater depth and range of application than found in the Old Testament. The New Testament teaching on the command to love one’s neighbour as oneself illustrates that (cf.Luke 10:25ff). I have some sympathies with the point made by these series of arguments.  For an excellent discussion of the logic of Paul’s thought in Rom. 1:18ff, see Oliver O’Donovan, “Discussing Homosexuality with St. Paul: A Theological and Pastoral Approach,” in A Crisis of Understanding: Homosexuality and the Canadian Church, ed. Denise O’Leary (Burlington, Ontario: Welch Publishing Co., 1988), pp. 52-56.  Robin Scroggs, The New Testament and Homosexuality (Philadelphia: Fortress Press,1983, pp, 28ff  Ibid., pp. 35-38.  Ibid., p. 35. He does admit that there is evidence for such relationships in same-age youths (p. 23).  Ibid., pp. 40-42.  Ibid., 101.  Ibid., p. 106.  Ibid., p. 108.  Ibid., pp. 120-21.  Ibid., pp. 109-10  Ibid., p. 114.  Ibid., p. 117.  Ibid., pp. 126-28.  Ibid., pp. 34-35, 84.  Ibid., p. 115.  Ibid., pp. 101, 116.  Ibid., pp. 92-98, 107-8.  D.F. Wright, “Review of The New Testament and Homosexuality by Robin Scroggs,” Scottish Journal of Theology 38 (March 1985): 119-20.  Wright also notes that “it is doubtful whether so elusive a word as malakos can sustain the exegetical edifice that Scroggs builds upon it”. (Ibid., p. 119).  Nelson, Embodiment, pp. 182-83.  Ibid., pp. 182-83.  Summarized in McNeill, Church and Homosexual, pp. 40-41.  See Bailey, Homosexuality, p. X; McNeill, Church and Homosexual, p. 41.  Bailey, Homosexuality, p. 159.  For example, see McNeill, Church and Homosexual, pp. 41-42; Scanzoni and Mollenkott, Homosexual, p. 62; James P. Hanigan, Homosexuality: The Test Case for Christian Sexual Ethics (New York: Paulist Press, 1988), p. 35; Boswell, Homosexuality, pp.109ff.  Bailey, Homosexuality, p. 159.  Nelson, Embodiment, p. 182; James B. Nelson, Between Two gardens; Reflections on Sexuality and Religious Experience (New York: Pilgrim Press, 1985), p. 113.  Some of these linguistic terms have already been considered in this paper above.  Scanzoni and Mollenkott, Homosexual, pp. 63-66.  See Hanigan, Homosexuality, p. 41; Scanzoni and Mollenkott, Homosexual, 62.  Similar arguments are found in other defenders of homosexual activity. See McNeill, Church and Homosexual, pp. 54-56; Scanzoni and Mollenkott, Homosexual, pp. 65-66.  Boswell, Homosexuality, p. 110.  Ibid., p. 111.  Ibid., p. 112.  O’Donovan, “Discussing Homosexuality with St. Paul,” p. 55. Richard B. Hayes also notes that the three phenomena are the result of God’s wrath, not the reason for it [“Relations Natural and Unnatural: A Response to John Boxwell’s Interpretation of Romans 1,” Journal of Religious Ethics 14 (Spring 1986): 189] .  Hayes, “Relations,” p. 192.  See Ibid., pp. 194-95; O’Donovan, “Homosexuality,” pp. 55-57.  Hayes, “Relations,” pp. 198-99, 192-94. See also James B. DeYoung, “The Meaning of ‘Nature’ in Romans 1 and Its Implications for Biblical Proscriptions of Homosexual Behavior,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 31 (December 1988): 429-41.  Hayes makes this point in “Relations,” pp. 200-1. See also Victor Paul Furnish, The Moral Teaching of Paul (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1979), pp. 65-66.  Scanzoni and Mollenkott, Homosexual, p. 71.  Ibid., p. 116ff.  Ibid., p. 72.  Bartlett is on the faculty of the Divinity School, the University of Chicago, and Sheppard is professor of Old Testament at Emmanuel College, Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto.  David L. Bartlett, “A Biblical Perspective on Homosexuality,” Foundations 20 (1977):133; Gerald T.Sheppard, “The Use of Scripture within the Christian Ethical Debate Concerning Same-Sex Orientated persons,” Union Seminary Quarterly Review 40 (1985): 18-19.  Bartlett, “Homosexuality,” p. 142; Sheppard, “Use of Scripture,” p. 19.  Bartlett, “Homosexuality,” p. 146; Sheppard, “Use of Scripture,” pp. 19, 17.  Bartlett, “Homosexuality,” pp. 143-46.  The areas that Sheppard mentions are household conduct, marriage and church properties (“Use of Scripture,” pp. 27-28).  Ibid., pp. 29-30.  See Donald L. Faris, The Homosexual Challenge: A Christian Response to an Age of Sexual Politics (Markham, Ontario: Faith Today Publications, 1993), pp. 110-14; Grenz, Sexual Ethics, p. 206; Hayes, “Response to Boswell,” p. 209.  John Kernaghan, “Pedophilia is a Disease Without a Cure,” The Record, Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario (August 17, 1994): pp. A1 – A2.  Hayes, “Response to Boswell,” p. 209. Hayes appeals to Rom. 7:13-25.  See O’Donovan, “Homosexuality,” p. 55.  Faris refers to a number of these findings in The Homosexual Challenge, pp. 111-12.  I discuss these problematic conclusions in the application of a developmental (or eschatological) hermeneutic to the issue of slavery in my paper, “The Kingdom and Slavery: A Test Case for Social Ethics,” Calvin Theological Journal 28 (April 1993): 80-83.