Boswell’s Homosexuality Critique
What is the most debated topic among people in modern society? Abortion, capitol punishment, gun control, but arguably the debate that stirs people up the most is the issue of homosexuality. On one hand, many Americans are growing to accept homosexuals as normal and treat them the same as heterosexuals. However, many people still view homosexuality as wrong and refuse to accept it. Regardless of how one may feel, there is no denying that LGBT issues must be addressed in the church. Scripture clearly calls the Christian to show the love of Christ to all people, regardless of age, gender, race, and yes, even sexuality. But homosexuality is not a new problem, it is covered in the Bible, and has traditionally been condemned by Christians. With LGBT issues emerging into the national spotlight again in recent decades, John Boswell argues that the Bible is not explicitly against homosexuality and that the root of Christian antigay feelings should be found outside of Scripture.
Boswell commences his argument by stating that the early church did not have access to New Testament writings that discouraged homosexuality. He goes as far as to say that the word “homosexual” is not even mentioned in the Bible. In fact, there is not a Greek word for homosexual in Hebrew, Greek, Syriac, or Aramaic, which are all Biblical languages. One may wonder how it is possible for this to be the case when multiple verses in Leviticus seem to clearly condemn homosexual acts, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination. (Leviticus 18:22) If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them,” (Leviticus 20:13). Here, Boswell states, the Hebrew word “Toevah” is used which is typically translated as “abomination”. This word is not typically associated with something that is “intrinsically evil”, but rather something that is ceremonially unclean for Jews like eating pork. Many people point to the Sodomites to prove that the Bible is antigay. God sent angels to judge Sodom because they were already wicked, and the men of Sodom tried to rape the angels, and because of this were destroyed by God. Boswell argues that this theory is largely ignored by the scholarly community, but is not just possible, it is likely. Another theory that Boswell would accept, and acknowledges is becoming more popular with modern scholars is that the Sodomites were destroyed for being for being inhospitable to their visitors sent from Heaven (Wells 263).
Another key point that Boswell brings up is that in Biblical times, homosexual acts were thought to be committed by heterosexual people, mostly men. The issues being addressed by Paul in the New Testament were imperial orgies, pedosexuality, slave rape, and the rape of powerless young men. Paul certainly condemns this behavior, and calls Christi...