The Evangelical Alliance

The following is my submission to EA(and some subsequent 2-way correspondence) thus:

EA's reply
My reply to EA
EA's 2nd reply

I am still awaiting a promised point-by-point reply!

(I did receive a rather unhelpful letter, which didn't address my points, from the

Theological Adviser, but didn't count that as a reply).

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Rev Joel Edwards, General Director, Evangelical Alliance

2 Oct 2000

Dear Rev Edwards

Greetings in the name of the Lord Jesus. I am writing as someone having the same love for the scriptures and concern for their accurate translation and interpretation as you. Having studied several versions of the Bible carefully, (see below) I am concerned about an issue that has been seriously mistranslated - and thus misinterpreted - and which has caused much damage. It is something I have shared with several Bible Societies, as God has called me to do.  I should first introduce myself.

I am a trained and accredited preacher in the evangelical tradition, and a member of District Synod. Since my conversion in 1954, I have studied the Bible diligently. It is precious to me, and I endeavour to study with the utmost integrity. The Bible has informed my life and my marriage (44 years); it is 'daily bread' in our home, and I have read it through several times.

My Bible study is done prayerfully and with great care. I use several well loved versions, and study;

*analytically, - using original language interlinear texts, lexicons/dictionaries and analytical concordances,  as well as other references that enable study of word usage and analysis,

*contextually  ie Biblical context (whole Bible as well as verse, chapter etc), comparison and cross-referencing; using knowledge of the culture, religious ideas, thinking and world-view etc of the writers, as well as the history and culture of the societies to whom the writers were referring.

My scientific background enables objective study, and I do my utmost to work with correct facts and information as my past experience shows that incorrect data/assumptions lead to wrong conclusions/results. I take great care in Bible study, because I have seen the damage done by literalism and misuse, both within our wider family, and in the world community  - apartheid; cult suicides etc as well as such past evils as the Inquisition and slavery. More recently I (who am not gay, nor is my wife or any of our family) have come to understand the major part that current translations of the Bible play in the condemnation, oppression, beatings and murders of homosexuals.

The responsibility for much of this damage falls on those who are either prepared to misuse scripture, or unprepared to open their minds to what the scriptures are actually saying to them, but is one for which the translation community, (as well as those who interpret the scriptures), bear a heavy responsibility, although probably out of ignorance of the people and the issue at the heart of the matter. My concern in writing to you is about EA's interpretation of scripture on this issue. The poor quality translation of those Biblical texts thought to condemn even responsible homosexuals, including those who love the Lord Jesus, has confused many.

I respect that the translation community has done its best, but sadly it has sown confusion and misled people, as you will see clearly in this submission. This is almost certainly due to traditional but wrong perceptions of the people and the issue, which influences translation, as the Director of the Bible Society has admitted. I appreciate the difficulty - I had the same perceptions until challenged by the Lord to find out for myself.  'New eyes and understanding' enabled prayerful study of the scriptures on this matter and was enough to show me the need for repentance. Since that time in 1992 exegesis has prayerfully continued to the point where I am confident in the Lord to approach you and Bible Societies regarding translation on this issue. My wife and I now have over 7 years experience of sharing Christian fellowship with homosexual Christians, and have amassed much knowledge of the people, the issue, and its relationship to scripture.

 The story of how we came to be led by the Lord to a ministry of 'support, affirmation and Christian love for homosexuals, Christians especially', is found in my booklet 'RELUCTANT JOURNEY' a copy of which I enclose, which is now in its 4th print. Written to be easily read while containing the essential information, it is necessarily short, but does set out the essence of what we had learned up to 1996 (when it was completed), as well as the essence of the Bible study.  However, exegesis continued, and this accompanying submission contains more material on Genesis 19:1-11; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; 1 Corinthians 6:9,10; 1 Timothy 1:10 and Jude 7.

An important stage leading to my change of heart was going back to the Bible prayerfully and carefully on this issue, asking of it this question 'If there are people who are made that way and have no choice in their sexuality, and if they are capable of loving, faithful, committed, covenant relationships with their (same-sex) beloved, what has the Bible to say about that?'.

I studied using the following definition, (as I realised that the word 'homosexuality' was being ignorantly used as a 'catch-all'); "True homosexuals are like heterosexuals in all respects, except when attracted or falling in love, then it is with another of the same gender, usually another homosexual".

Thus defined, neither  heterosexuals who get involved in same-sex acts, nor bisexuals (who are attracted to both genders), are 'true homosexuals', although there is a homosexual side to the nature of bisexuals, which for some is dominant. There is also a small number of people who are confused about their sexuality, usually resulting from child sexual-abuse. My Bible study, based on the above premises (which were confirmed by the experience of the many homosexual Christians we met, and supported by professional opinion), led to my repentance, following which the Lord called us to our ministry. And it is the Lord who has led me to write to you and the Bible Societies.

We have learned that while same-sex sexual expression in its various forms is quite un-natural to us, it is as natural to a true homosexual as opposite-sex sexual expression is to us. There are homosexuals who 'act out the media image' but my Bible study is/was primarily concerned with those who live in loving, faithful, covenant same-sex partnerships, many of whom have sought God's blessing on their union. There are also homosexuals who live celibate lives, including some in celibate partnership, but celibacy is a gift not given to many of them, just as it is not given to many of us heterosexuals.

In over seven (7) years of ministry, we have seen at first hand the confusion, distress, depression and despair of homosexual christians who, finding they are different and among those condemned by church and society, have tried everything to change. Prayer for years, 'ex-gay ministry' counselling, deliverance ministry - nothing changed, and they found that they had to eventually accept themselves as they are. Any need for additional counselling arises from their 'given difference' and the prejudice and bigotry with which they are treated, often creating self-hatred which leads to self- damage, or even suicide. Such treatment is wicked, and invariably 'backed' by Biblical quotation!

When I began to seriously study this issue, I read the Bible thro for reference and context, then struggled prayerfully and carefully for months with the texts that I later found from our new-found homosexual Christian friends were those that were used by others to condemn them. That, and more recent Bible study based on 7 years experience of ministry, serves to show that all translations on this issue are confused and wrong.  Some translators are now re-examining their translation following my submission, and others who recognise the need to 're-evaluate for clarification, and possible re-translation, those five Biblical passages often cited in discussions of homosexuality, as those passages have no relation to the modern concept of homosexuality'. When re-reading the Bible I felt this was the case, but had no firm evidence for it, and continued to study as in this letter.

But this is all background to the study, which I offer as evidence of the need for EA to carefully reconsider its interpretation of those texts that are used to condemn even those homosexuals who are responsible, faithful and loving Christian people. =================================================

I proceed now to the study summary, apologising for its length, which is unavoidable.

 

GENESIS 19:1-11 (and 13:13)

This is a story that, as translated and interpreted, has wrongly done great damage to homosexuals and their image. The NIV (New Int'l Version); GNB (Good News Bible), JB (Jerusalem Bible), LB (Living Bible); and NWT (New World) all contribute to that damage by incorrectly inserting into v.5 words like 'have sex/intercourse with'.  This is contrary to the prophets and Jesus, who provide the only evidence of Sodom's sin - thus words for which there is no Biblical foundation, as follows;

a) While we know from Gen 13:13 that these were wicked men, we are NOT told in the story;

  1. Specifically, what form their wickedness took, (but the prophets and Jesus tell us) OR

  2. who these men were (other than 'men of Sodom') who were going to attack Lot's messengers.  There is no basis in the story or in any other Biblical evidence that these were homosexuals, OR that the intended offence was same-sex rape or intercourse.

The Hebrew derivative of 'yada' (to know) used here is misconstrued as denoting sexual intercourse.  'Yada' and derivatives occur nearly 700 times in scripture, meaning 'know' in the sense we use 'know'. It is used only 13 times when it means sexual intercourse, and it is always made clear by an accompanying statement eg 'Abraham knew Sarah his wife, and she conceived and had a son'.      Such a clarification does not occur in v.5.

b) Why was Lot not raped when he went out to them, if this is a story about same-sex rape? This is incontrovertible evidence that this story is not about same-sex rape, per se.

c) Why when offering his daughters, does Lot state that they are virgins?  If they were being offered simply as sexual playthings, virginity did not matter. Indeed they would not have been so after the first encounter. So his statement about their virginity was significant!

d) Even if Lot had offered his daughters as sexual playthings, it cannot be reliably inferred that this was to prevent a sexual attack - he could just have well have done so for reasons of diversion from physical violence to, or murder of, his guests.

e) Much more likely, (knowing Lot's background, see f. below) is that he recognised that the gods of Sodom had to be appeased by sacrifice of some kind. Human sacrifice was common then, and a female must be a 'virgin'. An alternative was to appease the local gods by offering his daughters as shrine prostitutes, which also required 'virginity' offered to that god - this would show that Lot was 'nodding' his recognition and offering appeasement to that god.

f) Lot was a man of obscene wealth and different culture, who brought his own God, into the territory of the gods of Sodom who would (be considered by the men of Sodom to) be displeased.     Now he was abusing that privilege by entertaining his God's messengers. Furthermore 'Lot sat at   the gate' ie he was an elder of Sodom and thus 'judged', or helped judge cases. Verse 9 gives clues    clues to the reasons for the attack,'Get out of our way...this fellow came here as an foreigner, and now wants to play the judge!'- not uncommon reasons given by xenophobes, that Lot had upset.

g) Not only is it NOT made clear that the story in Gen 19 is about homosexuals and same-sex rape, but we are told by the prophets and Jesus quite differently. Most references in the Bible to Sodom do not specify what their sin was, but some do. The sins of Sodom;

 1. according to Isaiah 1:10ff, were idolatrous worship, and injustice.

 2. according to Ezekiel 16:48-50, were pride, stubborn-ness and injustice.

 3. according to Jesus Matt 10:11-15; 11:23,24; Mark 6:11; Luke 10:10-12; 17:26-30 were inhospitality, unbelief and unpreparedness.

Thus  neither our Saviour, nor these great prophets, interpreted the story, (and thus the sin) of Sodom according to present tradition! This for me is of the greatest significance. It means that Christians and others who translate and/or interpret it traditionally, are doing so at variance with the Lord Jesus, the Living Word, and in spite of the Biblical evidence!

The story in Judges 19 is a significant comparison - the criminals - Benjamites - are clearly identified, and the woman offered is raped to death. This story is similar to that of Sodom, but more vicious. Why are homosexuals (who are NOT identified in Gen 19) condemned, while Benjamites who are identified in Judges 19 never mentioned.  The reason is not hard to find - prejudice and bigotry!

 

LEV 18:22 (and 20:13)

1.It is vital to recognise this as the *only reference in the Old Testament (or Hebrew Bible) to same-sex activity, that when read literally as translated appears unconnected with all other OT refs to same-sex activity ie male shrine prostitution. However, the 'New American Standard Bible' and the 'Interlinear NIV Hebrew-English Old Testament' by JR Kohlenberger 3rd states that the literal translation is "you shall not lie with a male as those (plural) who lie with a female (singular))", something I have found by textual study. This of itself suggests male prostitution, and taken together with the  following evidence, confirms that this reference is indeed about male shrine prostitution.

   *NOTE: Lev 20:13 is the same as Lev 18:22, but with the addition of the penalty for the offence.

2. That this is a unique reference in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible is most significant, as these were the scriptures of Jesus, the apostles (including Paul), and the early church. The NT Canon was not agreed for many years, and these scriptures together with the Gospels informed the New Testament writings, including those of Paul and Jude.

3. Importantly, a single reference on a matter of such moral importance is entirely atypical of these scriptures. God does not say 'I will say this only once'. Consider the sexual sins of adultery, prostitution, fornication etc which are not only condemned many times, but became part of the spiritual imagery of unfaithfulness of Israel toward God. There are 100s of references to heterosexual sexual sin.  So what is this single reference about? I proceeded as follows:

4. When comparing the laws in Exodus/Leviticus, with those in the copy of the law, (Deuteronomy), in the same way as Kings is compared with Chronicles, and the Synoptic Gospels are compared to help understanding, so in Deuteronomy is found the law comparable to that in Lev 18:22. The only law in Deuteronomy about same-sex acts is Deut 23:17,18 and concerns shrine prostitution.

5. An examination of the Hebrew words translated 'abomination' or 'God hates that', and an analysis of their use, gives the following;

 a. 'shequets' which relates to food regulations in Lev 11;

 b. 'shiqquts' which relates to unacceptable and unworthy worship of God and desecration of the Temple;

 c. 'toe'bah' is the Hebrew word for 'abomination' used almost exclusively of idolatrous worship, statutes and practices. Where 'abomination' is used in the references in Deuteronomy, 1 and 2 Kings to condemn shrine prostitution, 'toe'bah' is the word used. And 'toe'bah' is the word used in Lev 18:22 and 20:13.

6. The context of Lev 18:22 and 20:13 is of the idolatrous fertility religion of Egypt and Canaan and its statutes, (Lev 18:3; 24-30; and Lev 20:23).

7. The history of Israel is concerned primarily with how their Kings dealt with idolatrous worship.  Kings were judged in their history not by greatness in battle or extending 'empire', but whether they had rid the land of 'the high places' ie idolatrous worship, which included fertility rites.

Thus the whole thing is of a piece; and points to the Leviticus references being about male shrine prostitution, just as all the other references to same-sex sin in the Hebrew scriptures.

It speaks volumes that there are no references to same-sex sin other than shrine prostitution, in the Decalogue, (Exodus or Deut); the associated Books of the Covenant; the Blessings and Cursings of Moses; the Great Prophets; or the Gospels. These 'great' books are silent on the matter, and there is but one doubtful reference which when analysed points, like all other OT references, to same-sex acts associated with idolatrous fertility worship, ie male shrine prostitution.

Thus, my conclusion is that there is no condemnation of loving, faithful same-sex relationships in the OT - the scriptures of Jesus and the early church - only of male prostitution, which may have been committed by any man. (NB. Even if Gen 19:5 could be construed as same-sex rape/intercourse, contrary to the evidence of Jesus and the prophets, it does not alter this conclusion).

In particular, any references to 'homosexuals' when interpreting the Bible, should be used with the utmost care, and preferably not at all, as the concept of 'homosexual' as understood today, was not defined until the 1890s. Thus the writers of the Old (and New) Testament could not be writing with this same concept in mind, and to use the word in this way will mislead.

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NEW TESTAMENT

 

GOSPELS

It is significant that there is no sign of condemnation of loving, faithful same-sex relationships in the Gospels either! The 'Living Word' is silent, although not on heterosexual sin! There is enough evidence from his welcome to those on the margins of society, eg Luke 15:1-7, that Jesus would equally welcome such people.

Luke 7:1-10  This story of the 'healing of the Centurion's servant' is, from a consideration of  culture and language, almost certainly about a loving homosexual relationship. Slaves in Roman culture were simply 'possessions' who were sexually abused at the whim of master or mistress, unless they were 'loved', as this servant was. It was said in Roman society that a man's 'sexual preference' could be seen by the gender of his favourite slaves. Centurions often took a 'love slave' with them when on a difficult tour of duty, (as was Israel). When the language of the story is examined, the centurion first refers to his servant as 'doulos' ('servant').  Later he speaks of his servant as 'entimos' ('precious/beloved') - most unusual for a member of a brutal society with its cruel games, its cruel form of execution ie   crucifixion, and its sadistic and hedonistic sexual practices. Finally, he refers to his servant as 'pais' or 'son/child'. To refer in such terms to someone who was not family, especially to a servant, was one way in his society of saying 'this is my love'.

The story's language agrees with cultural considerations to strongly suggest that here was a loving, homosexual relationship. And there is no condemnation, only commendation of the centurion's faith.

SO WHY DOES THE TONE CHANGE WITH PAUL?

Paul saw on his travels the corruption that idolatrous fertility worship brought to societies. It was practised widely by farming communities around the Mediterranean, who saw the fertility rituals as a 'sympathetic waking up' of the gods to make fertile the fields and flocks.

For example, in Cyprus, no young woman could marry until she had served in the Temple of Aphrodite and been selected, with payment to the temple, for prostitution services. And at the annual 'Aphrodisia' festival, all eligible women in the area had 'to serve as temple prostitutes' when pilgrims came from around the Mediterranean to take part in the temple's sexual liturgy. These practices were common to many lands bordering the Mediterranean, the scene of Paul's travels.

Such practices corrupted societies. And in the same way that the prophets of Israel fought to keep  idolatrous worship and its corrupting practices out, so Paul fought this in relation to the early churches. He saw the degradation, particularly bad in places like Rome, which Tacitus described as 'the common sewer into which everything infamous and abominable flows like a torrent from all quarters of the world' - the price paid for being influenced by the nations it had subdued.

Romans were a brutal people, who worshipped various gods, and had their 'vicious games' and initiations (sometimes brutal and sexual) and festivals, which were at times orgiastic. Their forms of 'marriage' allowed the paterfamilias to find his sexual satisfaction where he wished. It was no business of his 'wife'who was there to care for the home, and bear the free-born children. He had power of life and death over his family, and 'freedom' where to find sexual satisfaction.

ROMANS 1:18-32

Just as the Deuteronomic history of Israel was based on a cyclic pattern, so Paul saw a pattern in the way that societies were brought low by idolatry. Romans 1:18-32 is a 3-stage argument setting out Paul's thinking on how humanity goes wrong. The immorality of Rome is its backdrop.

The argument goes as follows;

a) summarising vv18-22 - Humankind rejects the plain truth about the Creator God, even though the evidence of God's work is plain for all to see.

b) summarising vv23-25 - Then humankind turns to idolatry, exchanging the truth of God for a lie; and the glory of God for images resembling humans and beasts; idolatrous images of their gods.

c) summarising vv26-32 - Consequently humankind no longer acknowledges God, and becomes debased in life, with passions perverted, and filled with every kind of wickedness.

This passage is about what happens when people refuse to acknowledge the living God and turn to idol worship - Paul was certain, he had seen it! The argument hinges around vv 23-26, the latter verse of which starts 'because of this ....'. Every kind of immorality was practised in Rome,  including prostitution (male and female), pederasty, adultery, incest etc. It was epitomised by the Empress Agrippina serving in a brothel out of sheer lust. People were dissatisfied with expression of their natural sexuality, and were turning to, what were for them, unnatural sexual acts.

This picture painted by Paul has no relevance to the loving, christian people we know, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Paul is not addressing the true love of homosexual or heterosexual people, but the depravity resulting from idolatry. Those who tear a verse or two out of context here to condemn all homosexuals and all same-sex relationships, especially those who are Christians in loving, faithful, covenant relationships which honour God and each other, are sadly abusing the scriptures. See eg Romans 8:30-34, and 1 Jn 4:11-13.

 

1 CORINTHIANS 6:9

Corinth was also a wicked, sexually immoral place like Rome, to whom it owed allegiance, and whose influence overshadowed Corinth. To behave like a 'Corinthian' was to be debauched; the Temple of Aphrodite left its mark on this port city, where people were away from home influences, and anything went.  Same-sex, as well as opposite-sex prostitution were common in Corinth. But Biblical translators do not seem to properly appreciate either the cultural background or the meaning of 'malakoi' and 'arsenokoitai'.

Paul identifies various wrongdoers in 1 Cor 6:7-9, and he includes 4 Greek words to identify those guilty of sexual immorality.

He uses two words to condemn heterosexual immorality;

a) pornoi - 'male whoremongers'; (porne = harlot)

b) moichoi - 'male adulterers'.

Paul uses two other words that are translated (and used) incorrectly to condemn all homosexuals;

c) malakoi - 'soft men', in this context the passive partner in same-sex prostitution, and

d) arsenokoitai. Paul was refering directly back to Lev 20:13 '.. koimethe meta arsenos koiten gunaikos...' which from the Leviticus study refers to 'men who lay with male shrine prostitutes'.

But how are these words translated?

1.'pornoi' meaning 'male whoremongers' is translated as;

 'fornicators' (NWT/KJV/NRSV- too general);'people who are immoral' (GNB- can mean many things); 'sexually immoral' (NIV- right ballpark, but could mean many things); 'people of immoral lives' (JB- can mean many things); 'the immoral' (RSV- can mean many things); 'those who live immoral lives' (LB- can mean many things).

Confusion can be seen even with this relatively simple word, with its root 'porne' meaning harlot.

2. 'moichoi' is consistently and correctly translated 'adulterers'.

 But confusion is shown again in the translations of 'malakoi' and 'arsenokoitai';

3.'malakoi' is translated as 'men kept for unnatural purposes' (NWT - what does this mean?); 'male prostitutes' (NIV, NRSV- good);  'sexual perverts' (RSV- can mean many things); 'homosexuals' (LB- clear but wrong); 'homosexual perverts' (GNB- those homosexuals who are perverted?); 'catamites' (JB- utterly wrong); 'effeminate' (KJV- foolish).

These translations give the impression of a man who thinks if he shoots with a blunderbuss is bound to hit something! The JB translation is very wrong, for it is stating in effect that 'sexually-abused children are wicked and will not inherit the Kingdom of God'.

4. 'arsenokoitai' is variously translated as 'men who lie with men' (NWT - very misleading); 'homosexual offenders' (NIV- what offence?); 'sexual perverts' (RSV- can mean many things); 'homosexuals' (LB- wrong); 'sodomites' (NRSV, JB - misleading, see **NOTE below); 'homosexual perverts' (GNB- perverted in what way?).

When the meaning of 'arsenokoitai' derived from Lev 20:13, is strictly 'men who lay with male shrine prostitutes', these translations are not only confusing but wrong. Again it gives the impression of the blunderbuss.  'Homosexual' and 'sodomite' (which many equate, usually incorrectly, see **NOTE below) are the only two reasonably clear meanings, but they are wrong. 'Sodomite' is close, although it has to be remembered that male temple prostitution was for both men part of the  religious liturgy - as for the rest, what do they mean?  From men and women with skills of language and expression, one expects far better. More seriously, these  translations of 'malakoi' and 'arsenokoitai' give reason to those who wickedly oppress, damage and destroy homosexuals.

** NOTE: A sodomite may be either homosexual or heterosexual - a homosexual may or may not be a sodomite. The term 'sodomite' is always used pejoratively; thus it is wrong to use it of those in faithful, loving, covenant partnership, which is not condemned in scripture. Indeed, the justification for such loving partnerships is that God gives to many in such partnerships His Spirit, seen in the Spirit's fruit. If God ......(see Acts 10:esp v44ff).

 

1 TIMOTHY 1:10

The same confusion is shown with the translation of key words in this letter of Paul's. He was writing to Timothy who was at Ephesus, the city of the Temple of Diana, or Artemis,  another fertility goddess, who influenced society there. Ephesus was the main Roman city of Anatolia, and the same influences were found as in Rome and Corinth; and the same sexual immorality born of idolatry.

This time, Paul, (according to the Nestle text),  used only two Greek words ie 'pornois' and 'arsenokoitai' to describe opposite-sex and same-sex sexual immorality respectively;

a) 'pornois' - a word with the same root as in the letter to Corinth. Translators give us;

'fornicators' (NWT/NRSV- too general);'adulterers' (NIV- too restricted); 'whoremongers' (KJV - correct); 'immoral persons' (RSV- can mean many things); 'all who are immoral and impure' (LB- can mean many things); 'the immoral' (GNB- can mean many things); 'immoral with women' (JB - inadequate, what does it mean? ).

b) 'arsenokoitais' - whose meaning strictly is 'men who lay with male shrine prostitutes'. Translators give us;

'men who lie with males' (NWT- misleading); 'sodomites' (RSV, NRSV- misleading); 'homosexuals' (LB - wrong); 'perverts' (NIV - means what?); 'abusers of themselves with mankind' (KJV - means what?); 'sexual perverts' (GNB - who/what?); 'immoral with boys or men' (JB - in what way?).

These translations are no better than those of the Corinthian letter - confusing and largely wrong or irrelevant! They are highly dangerous translations as far as homosexual people are concerned. How are people who have to rely on these translations meant to deal with these variations, most of which sow confusion and are wrong?

The translation community is letting its readership, and those who have to interpret these references, down badly. It clearly does not understand the people or the issue as it comes to do its work on these texts, and seems not to have discerned that Leviticus 18:22; 20:13 inform 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10.

 

PAUL'S OTHER LETTERS - AN IMPORTANT POINT!

The final point to note is that neither Paul, nor any other New Testament writer used 'malakoi' or 'arsenokoitai' again. Paul condemned sexual immorality in his every letter, and if 'arsenokoitai' were a universal condemnation of homosexuals, Paul would have used this word in every letter. That he did not shows that those who claim the Leviticus reference as a universal condemnation of homosexual acts are wrong.

The most sensible conclusion is that there was a particular problem at Corinth and Ephesus, ie male prostitution associated with idolatry, for which he used the word 'arsenokoitai' drawn from Leviticus.  For Rome he gave a graphic description of the things troubling him; but in none of these is there any indication that he includes loving, faithful homosexual relationships in his condemnation.

 

OTHER WRITERS - JUDE v7

Here, Jude refers to false teachers in the context of 'Sodom and Gomorrah, and like cities..'  The Greek of Jude 7 includes '..ekporneusasai (fem. pl.) kai apelthousai (fem. pl.) opiso sarkos eteras...'  Using the feminine plural in this context is an example of the way idolatry is frequently described in the Hebrew scriptures eg 'daughters of Sodom who have prostituted themselves and gone after other gods etc'.   Also, sexual acts have little relevance when referring to the teaching of false teachers. The Greek has nevertheless been translated to 'accord with current tradition' thus;

*KJV gives 'giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh..'

*JB gives ' fornication of Sodom and Gomorrah and other towns nearby was equally unnatural..'

*NIV gives 'gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion...'

*NRSV gives 'indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural lust...'

*RSV gives 'acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust...'

*LB gives 'all full of lust of every kind, including lust of men for other men..'

*GNB gives 'indulged in sexual immorality and perversion..'

*NWT gives 'committed fornication excessively, and gone out after flesh for unnatural use..'

The evidence in Isaiah 1:10ff, Ezekiel 16:48-50 and the Gospels has been ignored (as well as the evidence within the story of Sodom itself - see Notes on Gen 19 attached) to make Jude 7 read incorrectly as actual sexual acts.   Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jesus refer to the 'sin of Sodom' (either specifically or in the context of another town's actual or potential sin), as idolatry, injustice, pride, unbelief etc.  Jude was written well after the prophets and Jesus, so should be informed by their clear understanding, and translated acordingly.

Ezekiel Chapter 16 should be read to see the context in which vv.48-50 are set, and it becomes clear why the Jude keyword references are in the feminine plural. This is just one of many instances where idolatry was referred to as 'spiritual prostitution, fornication or adultery', which indicate that Jude 7 should be translated in spiritual terms eg ' like the daughters of Sodom who prostituted themselves, and went whoring after other gods, and perverted justice etc'.

Bible translators have misled their readers in Gen 19, by not considering the full Biblical evidence about Sodom and its sins.  Its resulting mistranslation, confusion and inaccuracy continues in other references like Jude 7, and fuels condemnation of homosexuals by people who do not understand them, even those homosexuals who love the Lord and live 'blamelessly in love before God'.

And for much the same reasons as apply to Jude 7, so should 2 Pet 2:10 be similarly re-translated.

 

GENERAL CONCLUSIONS

Study and analysis has shown that;

a) there is no condemnation of loving, faithful covenant homosexual relationships in the Bible.

b) translators have brought confusion to the translation of those texts traditionally thought to condemn all homosexuals and the expression of their sexuality, and have translated key phrases and words, and used footnotes in a way that is highly dangerous to the well-being of homosexuals. Thus the present translations on this matter not only come under the judgment of God, but give bigoted, prejudiced people a Biblical weapon to hurt and damage even those homosexuals who are loving and responsible, including those who are faithful Christians who live in love with God and others according to the teaching of Christ, and to whom God has given His Spirit.

Thus, translators bear a grave responsibility, and I have requested those I have contacted to correct the matter without delay, indicating clearly the position by re-translation and/or suitable footnotes. In doing so, they have clearly to better understand the people, the issue and the Biblical context and linkages that operate for the texts dealing with same-sex immorality in the Bible.

It also means that until the offending, mistranslated references are corrected, interpreters and those who influence others on the scriptures have a Christian responsibility to make clear what the scriptures actually do say to us on this matter.

Rev Edwards, I have been challenging and honest, but trust that I have not been ungracious - I have certainly not intended to be so, and apologise if I have given that impression. But I do care very much for Biblical integrity, justice and truth, and have concluded that the scriptures are badly mistranslated and seriously mislead readers/students on this issue. Until this situation is corrected by translators, it falls to those like ourselves, who interpret the Bible, to help readers and students understand. As EA is 'looked to' for Biblical guidance, it has a responsibility to help 'put the record straight' on this.

If there is anything you wish to question, or on which you think I could provide further assistance, I will be glad to assist.  I look forward very much to a reply from you. Meanwhile may I wish you the blessing of God in your work.

Yours in Christ;  George S E Hopper  C Eng (Ret'd)

 

The first reply:

Evangelical alliance

27 October 2000

Dear Mr Hopper

Thank you for your letter dated 2nd October.

Your booklet 'Reluctant Journey' was one of many sources from various perspectives consulted in preparation of our report, 'Faith, Hope and Homosexuality'.  Although you mention 'EA's interpretation of Scripture on this issue', you seem to make no direct reference to this report, nor to its supporting references. I think it might be easier for us to respond to your arguments if they were applied more specifically to our (admittedly brief) study, and to the more detailed theological work which we cite in defence of our case.

Yours sincerely in Christ

REV DR DAVID HILBORN;  Theological Adviser

===============================================

My reply was as follows:

Rev Dr Joel Edwards;  Director, Evangelical Alliance

 7 Nov 2000

Dear Rev Edwards

Thank you for the reply received from Rev David Hilborn a few days ago.  In it he mentioned that my booklet 'Reluctant Journey' was consulted when 'Faith, Hope and Homosexuality' was produced, and am pleased that you have a good starting point for your response.

But things have moved on for EA, and for ourselves. My submission was not just about my booklet, (written 1996; published 1997), which I offered as essential background to the additional notes included which contained further exegesis.  And EA's understanding of  homosexual orientation must surely have been profoundly challenged recently; the sexual orientation of true homosexual men and women is a 'given'; some go into denial to protect themselves, some  hoping for change in time, but change does not happen. Their only choice is in the expression of their sexuality.

We did read EA's 'Faith, Hope and Homosexuality', and were encouraged by the steps forward EA appeared to be making on the matter. But in the light of our experience (since Feb 93) in regular fellowship and support of homosexual Christian men and women, in which we have learned a great deal about them and their life issues - far more than other Christians - we felt that EA's booklet was more about ideology than people, and had a touch of unreality about it.

I have made a point-by-point reasoned Biblical statement, and I hope that you will find it possible to respond to it point-by-point, and await your reply.

Yours in Christ;    George S E Hopper; C Eng (Retired)

================================================

To which I received this reply;

Evangelical alliance

16 November 2000

Dear Mr Hopper

Thank you for you letter dated 7th November in which you ask for a point-by-point response to your Biblical notes.  Your letter has been passed to Rev David Hilborn for a reply as this subject falls within the remit of the Theology Department.

Please be assured that 1 will pass your letter on to David.  However, he is away from the office a lot at the moment working to a tight deadline to complete a forthcoming publication.  Once this is completed he will consider your letter and respond in due course.

Yours sincerely

CAROLYN SKINNER;  Secretary - Theology Department

==============================================

I did receive a final unhelpful reply from Rev Dr David Hilborn, which did not address the issues.

 
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