An essay donated by Susan Humphreys:
Interpreting the Bible:
The Problems People Stumble Into, When
They Use Biblical References To Justify
& Sanctify Their Prejudices or Their Truth.
The article in the Jehovah's Witnesses' (JW's) Awake Magazine about homosexuality starts with some statements and true/false questions. 1
- The first statement/question is:
"The Bible condemns homosexual acts."
Their answer says "True" and cites the following passage from 1 Corinthians 6: 9-10. They state "The Bible says: 'Men who practice homosexuality....will not inherit God's Kingdom'."
Putting a line in quotes as they have done implies that it is a word for word repeat of what is written in the Bible.The Bible doesn't say what they claim it says.
From my Bible I read, "Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers -- none of these will inherit the kingdom of God."
The word "Sodomites" in this passage does NOT refer to homosexuals. There was a word in common usage for homosexuals (hemophilia) at the time this Biblical passage and others were written. That word never appears anywhere in the Bible. Since that word isn't used in this passage one has to accept that the passage isn't about homosexual behavior.
"Sodomites" refers to males that use anal sex as a weapon to demean and dominate other men, boys and females. It might also refer to the men of Sodom who in the Biblical story about Sodom and Gomorrah would sexually abuse strangers to establish their dominance. The entire passage is about people who harm other people or themselves.
Fornicators refers to deviant behavior which might include deviant sexual practices. Deviant does not mean that something is bad or evil, it just means it is outside the norm. What is normal for the homosexual is abnormal (deviant) to the heterosexual, and vice versa!
The writers of this pamphlet might want to consider the meaning of the word "revilers" that refers to people who abuse others with words (say bad/untrue things about others), in this case homosexuals. Revilers are people according to this passage who will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The second statement:
- The Bible condones homosexual acts."
They say the answer is False and refer to Genesis 1: 27-28. The JW writers say:
"The Bible teaches that sex should be engaged only by a male and a female who are married to each other."
There is no way you can honestly and with any sense of integrity come to that conclusion from that passage.
What Genesis 27 and 28 actually says. according to my Bible. is this:
"So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them, God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth; and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth'."
There is NOTHING in that passage about marriage or about sex being engaged ONLY by a male and female. Such gross misrepresentation of what the Bible actually says is inexcusable, in my opinion.
The other biblical reference mentioned in answer 2 is Proverbs 5:18-19. Did somebody fail to fact check or check for typographical errors before they approved the publication of this piece? This doesn't say anything about marriage or sex between men and women.
My Bible says, in Proverbs 5:
18 "a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that hurry to run to evil,"
19 "a lying witness who testifies falsely, and one who sows discord in a family."
WAIT I bet the inclusion of this passage was a Freudian slip. Their subconscious is telling them to cease and desist, to stop "devising wicked plans" and "testifying falsely" in order to "sow discord" in the human family against homosexuals.
- Question 3 states:
"The Bible promotes homophobia (a hatred of or prejudice toward homosexuals)"
The answer they give is False and to the writers credit they point out the Bible does not encourage prejudice, hate crimes, or any other kind of mistreatment of homosexuals. They cite Romans 12: 18 as their reference, which my Bible says "If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all." You can't live peaceably with others when you intentionally spread misinformation about them.
Later in the piece the writers mentioned 1 Thessalonians 4: 4 and 5 as proof that the homosexual can refrain from same sex urges or desires:
"Each one of you should know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not with greedy, uncontrolled sexual passion."
They failed to include the next line which carries the full meaning of the text:
"that no one wrong or exploit a brother or sister in this manner."
The whole passage is about the abuse and exploitation of others. By failing to quote the full passage they intentionally deceive and mislead their readers.
In my opinion, when someone "cherry picks" lines (pick a couple of lines and take them out of their context) or when someone lies, or distorts the truth in order to prove their truth, their "truth" is nothing but a lie,
There are problems with some of the other citations. I have pointed out the most egregious errors. Don't accept my arguments at face value. Get a Bible and study the passages for yourself.
I can't resist offering one last word of advice that I hope all who read this piece, will seriously consider.
It isn't what religion a person follows or whether a person follows a religion, or whether they profess a belief in a God or Gods, a Goddess or Goddesses. It doesn't matter whether, a person is like me and does not believe in any God/s or Goddess/es. All that MATTERS are our day to day words and actions: what we say about and how we treat other people, other living things, our planet and ourselves. 2
It isn't just about what we do to homosexuals or the poor. It is also about what we say about them and what we claim the Bible says about them that matters.
Whenever someone quotes Biblical passages to support their arguments, look the passages up and decide for yourself if that passage honestly says what they claim it says. Don't be afraid to use what you find to counter their argument. And don't be afraid to use a Biblical passage along with scientific facts, research data, and statistics to make your counter argument stronger.
Related essays or sections on this web site that you might find interesting:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "What does the Bible say about homosexuality," Awake Magazine, Jehovah's Witnesses, 2017-MAR-11, at: https://www.jw.org/
- According to the Sheep and Goats passage in Matthew 25, at the Final Judgment, only one criterion will be used to differentiate between those sent to Heaven and Hell: good works towards others in accordance with the Golden Rule.
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Originally posted on: 2017-APR-15
Author: Susan Humphreys, Contributing Editor