08/02/2013 10:39 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Pope and Understanding Homosexuality in the Bible

The recent comment by Pope Francis on not judging gay persons should not come as a surprise to any Christian. Even Fundamental Christians make it clear that sin is sin and this is certainly not a new concept to Catholicism. So why is there not uproar about adultery or even lust or promiscuity by heterosexuals? Are gay persons being put in their own despicable sinful category deep in the depths of hell as noted in Dante's inferno? A Christian believer should assert that God is the only one that can judge what sin is and what it is not. Society seems to accept much more readily the promiscuous heterosexual contrasted with accepting the homosexual lifestyle. And again -- sin is sin to a Christian.

One could easily debate the topic of homosexuality in the bible as questionable with regards to sinfulness. Some Christians may quote the bible to support the claim that homosexuality is an abomination but this is not at all certain. Genesis 19:1-11 refers to the city of Sodom where Lot takes into his home two weary travelers, referred also as angels or messengers from God. Lot is later accosted by men within the city asked to meet the travelers to get to 'know them.' It should be noted that the literal translation from the Hebrew does not equate to having sex with them but instead just knowing them. Lot declines and offers his daughters instead. It is important to understand the bible (and other holy books) in context. Lot goes out of his way to ensure these travelers have a comfortable place to stay for the night. Hospitality is a very important characteristic of this ancient civilization. The sin by these men was the lack of respect and care for these strangers in need. Lot giving up his daughters might seem extreme but to understand the cultural and social context of that time certainly demonstrates that the importance of hospitality especially towards messengers of God.

The New Testament verse 1 Cor. 6:9 is often construed meaning that homosexuals will not see the kingdom of God. This is interesting because the Greek word μαλακός (malakos) from the original translation has a meaning of soft, gentle or mild and does not directly translate to mean gay or homosexual. The actual concept of homosexuality was vague and limited in the first century CE. Scholars including myself believe the early church and that society during the time of Paul of Tarsus was dealing with male prostitution involving boys. Pedophilia was prevalent. This explains why there are little references to same sex female relationships in the bible. There is no need to further belabor the controversy of homosexuality in the bible. Looking at the original Hebrew of the Old Testament and Greek of the New Testament and understanding it in the correct context certainly brings the topic into question.

How is it that a gay person is gay? Some people might say it is a mental illness but would not the same apply for promiscuous heterosexuality or even lust and how does one deny the obvious effeminacy of many gay males and the masculinity of many gay females? Isn't that biological? Bottom-line, in Christianity, one cannot argue with the fact that only God himself determines what sin is and what sin is not. It is hard to argue that all homosexuals are an abomination before God when there are many gay couples that adopt orphans in dire need and give generously to charity.