Thou shalt not....

Adam and Steve as likely painted by Michaelangelo?

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is abomination"

A gay friend of mine once commented that he did NOT sleep with his partner as he would with a woman - he slept with him as a man

It has been shown that when translating scripture, gays often get the short end of the stick. When a decision has to be made on which English word to use, the translator has to rely on overall context and if his mind set is homophobic even unconsciously the results can be disastrous. He thinks to himself: "Well the author MUST have meant that. Sexual topics are particularly difficult because of the extraordinary number of euphemisms used.

Many would regard "abomination" as a particularly poor translation of the original Hebrew word which really means "ritually unclean" within an ancient Israelite era. I am told the third century Greek Septuagint translation translated "to'ebah" into Greek as "bdelygma," which meant ritual impurity. If the writer(s) of Leviticus wished to refer to a moral violation, a sin, he would have used the Hebrew word zimah.

It kinda takes the sting out of that passage if it were translated:

"Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind: it is a ritual impurity. "

The following adds another possible understanding of this passage:

The obsession in Leviticus concerning the mixing of things that should be kept separate sheds a possible light on its understanding. Ancient Israelites were not allowed to mix two crops in the same field, or make cloth out of two different raw materials or plow a field with an ox and a donkey yoked together or crossbreed animals. So it makes sense that mixing in the marriage bed might be considered improper as well. A woman's bed was her own. Only her husband was permitted there, and then only under certain circumstances. Any other use of her bed would be a defilement.

Of course, the translators of this passage may have had an agenda, or may have had a more creative idea of what this passage might mean than that of the original author. They may have assumed that the original author would have shared their depreciative view of same sex sexuality. Perhaps they should have gone with the wording of the text without imparting any additional meaning.

The National Gay Pentecostal Alliance makes a word-for-word translation of this verse from the original Hebrew as:

"And with a male thou shalt not lie down in beds of a woman; it is an abomination."

Or put in modern day English:

"Men may not engage in homosexual sex while on a woman's bed; it is an abomination."

Rather than forbidding male homosexuality, it simply restricts where it may occur. This may seem a strange prohibition to us today, but was quite consistent with other instructions in Leviticus.

Now if we combine both of these ideas, we get a passage that looks like this:

"Men may not engage in homosexual sex while on a woman's bed; it is a ritual impurity."

Leviticus 18:22

It seems a real stretch to take a word-for-word translation like: "And with a male thou shalt not lie down in beds of a woman" and make it read: "Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind"

If one uses the direct word-for-word translation of Leviticus which says: "And with a male thou shalt not lie down in beds of a woman" one will note that it is a conditional statement, with both clause and condition, the condition being that you shouldn't do it in the beds of a woman - and that is the only restriction.

The 'beds of a woman' appears to refer to the practice, which still occurs in some parts of Libya, of the married couple having three beds - the man's bed, the woman's bed, and the marital bed. Therefore, the beds of a woman would be her bed and the marital bed.

So in other words, even if you are married, the passage suggests that it's ok to have sex with your best male friend, just don't do it in any of the beds she sleeps in.

When you look more closely at the Bible, not even the bits that appear to condemn homosexuality withstand scrutiny regarding that interpretation.