Dear Rabbi Glickman,
You are like so many from the liberal side of Judaism and Christianity. If you find something in the Bible that makes you uncomfortable you go to all manner of theological contortions to prove the opposite of what it says. Your Faith & Values column on homosexuality and same sex marriage in the January 21, 2012 Seattle Times demonstrates this point.
First you claim, “very few people have thought to look carefully at what the Bible actually says.” I refer you to http://clearfogblog.wordpress.com/category/religion/where you will find writings on homosexuality from two mainstream protestant pastors that make the case for including homosexuality in the long list of sins. Also included are my own humble concerns about the consequences of acceptance of the viewpoint you hold. I am quite sure a simple web search would turn up numerous other “careful looks” by theologians with a position opposite yours.
You stated that homosexual behavior is only mentioned twice in the Jewish Bible. So how many times does a sin have to be mentioned to qualify as a sin? The New Testament has several references, is that enough? You noted that your “Bible only discusses sexual contact between two men” and then leap to the conclusion that there is “no prohibition whatsoever of lesbianism.” Surely you know that the status of women in biblical times often precluded mention of them at all.
The most laughable assertions followed your translation of the Hebrew word “mishk’vei-ishah” as “woman-laying” as possibly referring to “…the Bible.. prohibiting certain sexual positions”, men conquering women or my favorite, “Maybe the Bible just wants homosexual activity to be different from heterosexual activity.” Yes it does and that’s why it is called out as sin.
Earl Palmer, former Senior Pastor of the University Presbyterian Church in Seattle cautioned that in interpreting the Scriptures, “Lean is best.” Biblical verses need to be read in context. The history and overall message of the Bible as well as the surrounding verses need to be considered but not twisted to fit the desires on the day. In this light, the Bible honors the male/female relationship from Adam and Eve (Genesis 2: 18-24) through Solomon’s “Song of Songs”, Proverbs 31: 10-31 and even Hosea who stayed faithful to his prostitute wife. The New Testament continues in the same vein. No where does either the Old or New Testament exalt, honor or approve explicitly, or any but the most contorted interpretation, same sex marriage or the practice of homosexuality.
I do agree, “it would be (a) good thing for us to be nice and get along.” However, one sometimes has to take a stand on moral ground. I just think you stand on liberal shifting sand rather than the rock of Scripture, old or new.
A fellow believer,