The first-ever New England Transgender Pride March and Rally will be held tomorrow at 11 AM in our very own Northampton, Mass. From the TransPrideMarch website:
The event is organized by members of the trans and gender variant community, and their allies, with the intent of taking a visible and positive stand for transgender rights. The March and Rally is dedicated to diverse representation among organizers and participants. We seek to educate and build awareness of the movement against gender-based discrimination.
Come join MassEquality in gathering petition signatures urging our state legislators to support HB 1722, an amendment to the Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws that would add protections for gender identity and expression.
In other news:
*Kittredge Cherry’s groundbreaking book Art That Dares: Gay Jesus, Woman Christ and More was one of five Lambda Literary Awards nominees in the LGBT Arts and Culture category. See a video of her reading from the book and telling some of the artists’ stories here.
*Soulforce has made their popular pamphlet “What the Bible Says – And Doesn’t Say – About Homosexuality” available online for free. Some key insights from Rev. Mel White:
Even heroes of the Christian faith have changed their minds about the meaning of various biblical texts.
It took a blinding light and a voice from heaven to help the apostle Paul change his mind about certain Hebrew texts. A sheet lowered from the sky filled with all kinds of animals helped the apostle Peter gain new insights into Jewish law.
Jerry Falwell believed the Bible supported segregation in the church until a black shoeshine man asked him, “When will someone like me be allowed to become a member of your congregation?” Through those simple words, the Holy Spirit spoke new truth about the ancient biblical texts to the Rev. Falwell, and in obedience he ended segregation at Thomas Road Baptist Church.
Even when we believe the Scriptures are “infallible” or “without error,” it’s terribly dangerous to think that our understanding of every biblical text is also without error. We are human. We are fallible. And we can misunderstand and misinterpret these ancient words — with tragic results.
[The story of Sodom]…is not primarily about sex. It is primarily about God. Some people say the city of Sodom was destroyed because it was overrun by sexually obsessed homosexuals. In fact, the city of Sodom had been doomed to destruction long before. So what is this passage really about?
Jesus and five Old Testament prophets all speak of the sins that led to the destruction of Sodom — and not one of them mentions homosexuality. Even Billy Graham doesn’t mention homosexuality when he preaches on Sodom.
Listen to what Ezekiel 16:48-49 tell us: “This is the sin of Sodom; she and her suburbs had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not help or encourage the poor and needy. They were arrogant and this was abominable in God’s eyes.”…
Whatever teaching about sexuality you might get out of this passage, be sure to hear this central, primary truth about God as well. God has called us do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our Creator. Sodom was destroyed because its people didn’t take God seriously about caring for the poor, the hungry, the homeless, or the outcast.
But what does the story of Sodom say about homosexual orientation as we understand it today? Nothing.
It was common for soldiers, thieves, and bullies to rape a fallen enemy, asserting their victory by dehumanizing and demeaning the vanquished. This act of raping an enemy is about power and revenge, not about homosexuality or homosexual orientation. And it is still happening.
In August 1997, Abner Louima, a young black immigrant from Haiti, was assaulted by several police officers after he was arrested in Brooklyn. Officer Charles Schwarz held Louima down in a restroom at the precinct, while Officer Justin Volpe rammed a broken stick into Louima’s rectum. These two men and the three other officers involved in this incident and its cover-up were not gay. This was not a homosexual act. It was about power.
The sexual act that occurs in the story of Sodom is a gang rape — and homosexuals oppose gang rape as much as anyone. That’s why I believe the story of Sodom says a lot about God’s will for each of us, but nothing about homosexuality as we understand it today.
[Discussing 1 Cor 6:9 and 1 Tim 1:10] …To remind the churches in Corinth and Ephesus how God wants us to treat one another, Paul recites examples from the Jewish law first. Don’t kill one another. Don’t sleep with a person who is married to someone else. Don’t lie or cheat or steal. The list goes on to include admonitions against fornication, idolatry, whoremongering, perjury, drunkenness, revelry, and extortion. He also includes “malokois” and “arsenokoitai.”
Here’s where the confusion begins. What’s a malokois? What’s an arsenokoitai? Actually, those two Greek words have confused scholars to this very day. We’ll say more about them later, when we ask what the texts say about sex. But first let’s see what the texts say about God.
After quoting from the Jewish law, Paul reminds the Christians in Corinth that they are under a new law: the law of Jesus, a law of love that requires us to do more than just avoid murder, adultery, lying, cheating, and stealing. Paul tells them what God wants is not strict adherence to a list of laws, but a pure heart, a good conscience, and a faith that isn’t phony.
That’s the lesson we all need to learn from these texts. God doesn’t want us squabbling over who is “in” and who is “out.” God wants us to love one another. It’s God’s task to judge us. It is NOT our task to judge one another.
So what do these two texts say about homosexuality? Are gays and lesbians on that list of sinners in the Jewish law that Paul quotes to make an entirely different point?
Greek scholars say that in first century the Greek word malaokois probably meant “effeminate call boys.” The New Revised Standard Version says “male prostitutes.”
As for arsenokoitai, Greek scholars don’t know exactly what it means — and the fact that we don’t know is a big part of this tragic debate. Some scholars believe Paul was coining a name to refer to the customers of “the effeminate call boys.” We might call them “dirty old men.” Others translate the word as “sodomites,” but never explain what that means.
In 1958, for the first time in history, a person translating that mysterious Greek word into English decided it meant homosexuals, even though there is, in fact, no such word in Greek or Hebrew. But that translator made the decision for all of us that placed the word homosexual in the English-language Bible for the very first time.
In the past, people used Paul’s writings to support slavery, segregation, and apartheid. People still use Paul’s writings to oppress women and limit their role in the home, in church, and in society.
Now we have to ask ourselves, “Is it happening again?” Is a word in Greek that has no clear definition being used to reflect society’s prejudice and condemn God’s gay children?
We all need to look more closely at that mysterious Greek word arsenokoitai in its original context. I find most convincing the argument from history that Paul is condemning the married men who hired hairless young boys (malakois) for sexual pleasure just as they hired smooth-skinned young girls for that purpose.
Responsible homosexuals would join Paul in condemning anyone who uses children for sex, just as we would join anyone else in condemning the threatened gang rape in Sodom or the behavior of the sex-crazed priests and priestesses in Rome. So, once again, I am convinced that this passage says a lot about God, but nothing about homosexuality as we understand it today.
Read the whole piece here. The companion pamphlet “What the Science Says – And Doesn’t Say – About Homosexuality”, by Soulforce Executive Director Jeff Lutes, is also now available online.