Pastoral Issues


The Bible and Homosexuality

Question:

When I asked him whether the Bible condemns homosexuality itself, regardless of the Church teaching, he responded that he knew a "scholar" that knew the "original Greek" of Paul's letters, and supposedly "specifically refers to relations between men and young boys" and not really "men and men"... now, this sounds like a bunch of pink propaganda (sorry to say so), and I was wondering if from the actual apologetics department, someone can provide some information to this.

Answer:

Yes, the Greek does refer to older men with young boys (i.e., teenagers). However, that is ONLY because that was the typical practice for homosexuals in the ancient Hellenistic world. Essentially, if you were an older man who pursued teenaged boys, then you were (supposedly) "perfectly normal" (i.e., because teenagers, who still lacked facial hair and were physically under-developed, were considered rather "feminine"). However, if you were a teenaged guy who allowed himself to be "had" by these older men, then you were looked down upon and considered a "sissy." :-) Likewise, it was considered a "natural" part of sexual development in the pagan world (especially among the Greeks) when teenaged boys (who were close friends) exchanged sexual relations. This also frequently involved an older "mentor" with a younger "protege," and it took place primarily because Greeks tended to keep women and young girls sheltered from general society, and a young man going through puberty rarely got to see, let alone court, a young woman. Rather, it was only when he reached adulthood, and owned property, that a Greek man was allowed to marry ...and this was usually an arranged affair. So, for all these reasons, homosexuality was quite common in the pagan world ...yet, at the same time, it was much closer to the kind of thing that occurs today in prison (i.e., men having sex with men because there are no women available) rather than the modern "Gay culture" that unfortunately exists in our present society. So, bottom line: Yes, St. Paul was talking about pederasty (i.e., sex between an adult male and a teenaged boy), but in condemning this, St. Paul was condemning **all** homosexual practices because pederasty was the norm at the time. See also Romans 1:27-29, where Paul makes it very clear that same-sex relations is intrinsically disordered and abhorrent to God.

As for your friend's personal problem, in which his repeated failures to avoid homosexual relations have caused him to stop regarding it as sinful, ... Well, in this, it may be helpful to tell him that his position is absolutely no different than that of an unmarried heterosexual male (like myself) who must constantly struggle with natural temptations and work, in God's grace, to avoid them. In other words, if a heterosexual male finds it difficult to stop fornicating, this does not give him the right to conclude the fornication is okay and not sinful. Rather, he is called away from such sin; and must live in purity ...and this is truth whether or not he chooses to marry. ...For, in marriage, a husband must also learn to control his sexuality and to place other concerns before it. So, whether the flesh is tempted according to God's design, or in opposition to God's design, all of us are really in the same boat. Now, in the English-speaking world we heterosexuals tend to shy away from this kind of reasoning because it seems to threaten our masculinity, etc. Yet, in Christian reality, it really makes no difference if one commits mortal sin via fornication with a woman or via sodomy with a man. Both will put you in hell. :-) And, the realization that both are mortally sinful may be a great encouragement to our unfortunate homosexual brethren, who are deceived by the devil into thinking that their cross is too difficult to carry or that their disorder makes their sin somehow "worse" in the eyes of God than that of a "healthy," "normal" heterosexual fornicator. :-) Yet, lust is lust, no matter what the object of that lust may be.

Anyway, ... I hope I've provided some help that can be useful for your friend. May God save him and bring him home in holiness.

Mark Bonocore
Catholic Apologist
May 14, 2003