Archive for the ‘Sexuality’ Category

Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire
By Jennifer Wright Knust

What does the Bible say about sex? Unmarried sex? Same-sex sex? Sex with angels?

In Unprotected Texts: The Bible’s Surprising Contradictions about Sex and Desire, (HarperOne 2011) Dr. Jennifer Wright Knust tackles serious questions regarding the Bible and sex in a clear, accessible manner. Knust teaches in the department of religion at Boston University where she is an associate professor of New Testament and Christian Origins. She is also an ordained American Baptist minister. Unprotected Texts is a meaty 343-page book with endnotes, a bibliography, and an index. It is available in hardback, paperback, and electronic editions and has been featured on NPR.

“Introduction: Why the Bible is Not a Sexual Guidebook” explains Knust’s interest in addressing issues of sexuality. Drawing upon her Christian upbringing and her experiences as a minister, a mother, and a biblical scholar, she aims to offer insight and greater complexity to overly simplistic moralizing of so-called biblical teaching regarding sexuality.

Chapter one “The Bible and the Joy of Sex: Desire In and Out of Control” explores biblical portraits of sex and sexual desire within and outside of marriage. It includes discussions of Song of Songs, Ruth, and King David’s sexual exploits.

In Chapter two “Biblical Marriage: There Is No Single View on Marriage Presented in the Bible,” Knust illustrates the range of types of marriages reflected in biblical texts and reviews varied and contradictory biblical teachings on marriage, celibacy, and divorce.

Chapter three “The Evil Impulse: Disordered and Ordered Desire” describes how within Christianity sexual desire becomes something to be tamed and controlled.

Illicit sexual behavior is discussed in chapter four “Sexual Politics: God’s Wife, Cursing the Canaanites, and Biblical Sex Crimes.” It highlights the ways in which notions of sexual perversion were used rhetorically against Israel’s enemies.

Chapter five “Strange Flesh” focuses on two forms of out-of-bounds sex: sex with angels and sex with foreigners.

Body parts and bodily fluids are covered in chapter six “Bodily Parts: Circumcision, Semen, and the Products of a Woman’s Womb.”

In the conclusion “So, I Hear You Have Five Husbands,” Knust reflects on the biblical account of a woman who has five husbands (John 4) and the lack of judgment offered by Jesus regarding her marital history. Knust ends with a serious caution to those who would seek easy answers to thorny questions regarding sexuality.

Knust writes in language that is accessible to an adult reader. She provides citations for all biblical quotations, and the endnotes and bibliography would be useful for those who are interested in conducting their own research on issues of sexuality. Her discussions highlight the ways in which biblical texts have been used within Protestant circles, but a reader from any or no faith tradition would find her work illuminating.

While Knust’s work is written for a lay audience, it would be more beneficial for the reader who has had introductory coursework in academic biblical studies. The average reader may not be familiar with the Babylonian Exile, the Epic of Gilgamesh, or terms such “Pseudo-Pauline” of “pseudepigrapha. ”Although Knust explains her use of these and other terms, someone who is not already knowledgeable regarding such issues may feel overwhelmed.

In my experience as a biblical studies professor, I have found that even students who do not identify themselves as “evangelical” or “conservative” Christians have long-held and unexamined beliefs about “what the Bible says.” They expect to learn the “right” answer in my class. Unprotected Texts would be more helpful for those readers who are open to reading biblical texts not as a guidebook for life but as a literary work that may be interpreted in different ways. Citing the many controversies in which biblical texts have been used on both sides of arguments, Knust explains, “The Bible is complicated enough, ancient enough, and flexible enough to support an almost endless set of interpretive agendas” (p. 21). Readers who believe that there is single “correct” biblical interpretation may find her approach frustrating.

Also, Knust does not provide “yes” or “no” answers regarding which sexual acts are in- or out-of-bounds. Instead, she elucidates the textual, literary, and historical issues relating to biblical texts on sexuality. For example, in discussing the woman with five husbands (John 4) Knust writes, “The story has no single meaning. Therefore, the issue for readers of the Gospel is not whether a particular interpretation is valid but whether it is valuable, and why” (240). For readers who understand “biblical” teaching as involving clear-cut answers, Knust’s work will prove challenging.

Knust advocates a don’t-throw-the-baby-out-with-the-bathwater stance that allows her to find biblical texts resonant and meaningful even if disturbing in some ways. For those who have ears to hear, it can be a liberating read that dispels many common misconceptions about the Bible and sexuality.

From Nyasha Junior

Posted by John the Revelator

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I found this article to be interesting. Her book “Unprotected Texts” is an excellent read. We come to the subject of sexuality based on our personal perceptions, in other words “people drive their values from scriptures but live by the values they insert.” Believers argue too much simply to prove a point instead of understanding historicity of the landscape of scriptures. Professor Jennifer Knust does a good job, while covering a lot of ground. 

Even for nonbelievers, the Holy Bible can offer timeless inspiration, guidance, and drama. But, says Jennifer Knust, a School of Theology assistant professor of New Testament and Christian origins, it’s far too ambiguous to serve as a guide to sexual behavior, despite U.S. courts’ history of using it to justify sodomy laws that have only recently been struck down. In 1975, when Virginia’s sodomy law was challenged, a federal court upheld the statute, arguing that it was rooted in Judaic and Christian law — and quoted Leviticus as justification. It took twenty-eight years before the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated sodomy laws, including Virginia’s — in 2003, a year after Massachusetts had struck down its sodomy laws.
Knust’s 2005 book, Abandoned to Lust: Sexual Slander and Ancient Christianity (Columbia University Press), examines the use of sexualized vocabulary by Christian authors from Paul to Irenaeus of Lyons. Her next book, scheduled for release this year, scours the Bible for a unified perspective on sexual behavior.
“My main argument is that biblical texts do not speak with one voice,” says Knust, also a College of Arts & Sciences assistant professor of religion and an ordained American Baptist USA pastor. “There is no shortcut to sexual ethics through the Bible.”
Knust spoke to Bostonia about what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality.
Bostonia: Does the Bible say anything at all about homosexuality?
Knust: The Bible doesn’t say any one thing about homosexuality. Arguably, it doesn’t say anything about homosexuality at all, in the sense that someone would think of that word and what it means today. The idea that homosexuality — as it’s understood in a contemporary American context — has anything to do with the way that same-sex attrac­tion and pairing might have been understood in the seventh century BCE or the first century CE is just preposterous.
The idea that we could go back and find a single sexual morality from the Bible is problematic not only because of the historical and cultural difference between ourselves and these books, but because the books themselves are contradictory.
Are there passages that do mention same-sex attraction?
The Song of Songs celebrates nonmarital desire, and in the context of early Jewish and Christian interpretation, that’s an occasion for queer theology. The Christian interpretation is, how do we imagine ourselves as the bride of Christ? But of course it’s men imagining themselves as the bride of Christ. In the rabbinic tradition, they’re imagining themselves as Yahweh’s wife.
How do you refocus people to think about the context of biblical texts?
We’ve lost a lot of the sense of why the text was written, what it was trying to address. We just don’t have the information we would need to understand the diversity of people and opinions — even the vocabulary of the time and assumptions that people would bring to the text. Think about medical literature in antiquity; the ideas are so foreign to our own medical literature. If we’re going to think about homosexuality as a biological category, what kind of biology are we thinking about? It would be ludicrous to use those texts today.
How do the texts reflect sexuality?
Human beings think about and talk about sexual desire — that is a constant. Are there passages that mention sexual desire between men in the Bible? Yes. Are there passages that allude to sexual desire between women? Yes. But details about how that same-sex desire is understood and represented have changed.
The reason people look to the Bible to come up with doctrinal or dogmatic statements about what sexuality is has to do with the overwhelming cultural authority of the Bible. If one can claim that the Bible is on one’s side, apparently the conversation is supposed to shut down. But it has the opposite effect, because a person will say, “The Bible is on my side, and it says x,” and the other person will say, “The Bible is on my side and says y.” There’s no way to solve that dilemma.
As long as we think we can get to some short­hand solution by beginning a sentence, “The Bible says …” we will continue to look to the Bible to say something, and not solve our problem. And we won’t hold ourselves responsible for the sexual decisions we’re making.
Is the Bible worth interpreting on these points if it’s on another cultural level?
I think it’s worth reading the Bible to have access to different ways of thinking about sexual desire and to notice our common humanity with people from long ago, who were very concerned about sexual desire, about their bodies, about how God related to the way they desired.
It’s a way of thinking with and through people who had similar questions to ours, but answered them in different ways. It’s like returning to our ancestral heritage, and we should take our ancestors seriously — if we consider the biblical authors to be our ancestors.
Do you get a lot of questions pointing to specific texts to try to prove a theory?
I’m a professor with the Massachusetts Bible Society, and someone asked a question online, “Did Paul and his world have any conception of faithful monogamous same-sex love?” I argued that Paul had little conception of faithful mon­ogamous opposite-sex love, let alone same-sex love. In First Corinthians he’s more concerned about celibacy, not about heterosexual love. For people to want to use that text to argue for same-sex love or heterosexual marriage, this is a prob­lem. It would make no sense to him; in his con­text slaves don’t get married, for example. In his context, celibacy is preferred, and the point of marriage is to protect couples from illicit sexual desire, not for procreation.
What about Leviticus?
One can’t help but note that in the holiness code, for example, the passage about men lying with men is identified as improper sexual behavior, placed along with sleeping with a woman who’s menstruating, committing adultery, committing incest or bestiality.
The framing of those laws is, don’t be like the Canaanites and the Egyptians. So is the point of the law to identify what the Israelite God thinks? That’s part of it, but another part is to put distance between the Israelites and the Canaanites and Egyptians. It’s also to accuse the Canaanites and Egyptians of behavior anathema to Yahweh.
Do you think people will ever stop using the Bible for their own arguments?
That’s my dream, that people will get the idea that there’s the notion of context. I’m moving beyond sex to the broader question of biblical authority. Biblical texts are fluid, not stable, and it’s questionable whether a Bible that we read today in translation has anything to do with the Bible that Paul read or even Augustine read in Latin because his Greek was kind of crummy. He was reading crummy Latin transla­tions. So I’d like to undermine the idea that these are the same books.
It also would be nice to talk about something constructive. There are wonderful texts in the Bible, and if we stop applying them in this sim­plistic way, maybe we could find something really beautiful — and stop using the Bible as a hurtful instrument.

BY KIMBERLY CORNUELLE/Commonwealth

Posted by (comments)John the Revelator

I’m so tired of lemmings like Franklin Graham who I consider a fraud, him and his cowardly pops. They’re always arguing about sin. what is sin? Show from your bible one scripture that defines sin…I’ll wait…still waiting. Since most won’t tell you or can’t tell you, I will. 1Jn3:4 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. The second question, what is the law; his word. The 913 presets no one teaches and for good reason. You can begin to see the utter ridiculousness this is. What bothers me, Franklin comments on a movie he hasn’t seen. He trivializes the life of a young man name Chiron who has to deal with a drug addicted Mother and him being confused about why kids are picking on him calling him a faggot at around the age of 7.  In England a cigarette is known as a faggot(just saying). He moves on up through to his middle years to adult hood. As an adult he gets into the trap game(selling drugs) as transforming his body and mind to be strong in order to never be weak again. The story is somewhat of a true story, the parts about his mother and gayness. Blacks represent a certain sphere of gay men, we can’t hide from it. What I don’t understand is the weapon of the bible that is so regularly chosen to prove a point. Watch Moonlight for what it is, a complicated love story of people trying to figure out life and its meaning an how to maneuver and guard themselves.

We have confusing ideas about sex and what sex is. We have preferences, mine happens to be with a woman. I refuse to use ideas of not having a women to populate with. If you look to the bible and the gospel according to Paul, sex wasn’t for enjoyment, it was for the purpose of giving birth and populating. Again society has to be looked at for it dictates the morals, not the bible. The bible through high minded thinking can be a good thing. However it can’t be made to be superior to the people who don’t believe in it. Many people believe different things in many ways. If you look at it carefully, don’t all the Abrahamic religions believe pretty much the same thing? Also look at all other religions they have moral codes as well. Sorry but the bible can’t be looked to for sex, a first century standard compared to a twenty first century standard. Even if we look at their standard for homoeroticism , it is viewed differently. It was about dominance. When I say it was about dominance I’m speaking of sexual conquest either by the female or male. Sex within that culture was myopic centered. It was frowned upon to be weak. The dominate person has to always be on top. When it comes to women being viewed in a certain light. The fullness of that is for another day. Theirs a lot of inconsistencies where that is involved.

Within the bible people chose what they want to believe. As I’ve said in the past “people derive our values form scripture but live by the values they insert.” This is not an odd statement. People chose the lives they want to live and justify it by their personal convictions. They put personal interpolations instead of following the holy writ. Stop using the guise of the bible, we have no idea how/why people are the way they are. I accept you as you are and what you do in your bedroom is your private business, nothing more. In writing this only the surface is being scratched in which we can have a proper conversation. These differences will be debated till the sun turns cold. Allow me this caveat, differing views are a must to have proper dialogue, same with interracial relationships. All the same, just a different con.

We can’t contend without the homoerotic story of David and Jonathan. This story proves problematic, especially within the looking on ones nakedness. Scholars debate wether the story is a homoerotic act or not. All I will say is, if it took place in todays context it would be considered a relationship between two men. Except the story takes place during a different time when sexuality is viewed differently. Read 1Sam chapters 18, 19, 20 for yourself. I’ll leave with this to show my meaning of comparing something that was written for a different time for a different group, think on it and ponder it. 2Sam1:26 I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.

Written/Posted by John the Revelator

To all the lovers out there, cuffing season is upon us. People are looking for relationships during the fall and winter months. Today I will share with you 4 of the greatest tips to have that will ensure you a long and prosperous journey.

  1. Communication
  2. Money
  3. Sex
  4. Never take each other for granted

The fourth is the glue, don’t treat someone a certain way expecting them to stay, and the first three, if any are out of order or ignored, the house will fall. I could expound on all of them, but why. These are four gems that people pay therapist good coin for and I’m offering them up for free…free I say…enjoy

Written by John the Revelator

For the most part this is an interesting article. Hip Hop is a large platform with many different players with differing ideas. Some crude and unflinching…so what. People can either accept it or not. Rappers today have such a bravado, I can understand if one lost a rap battle to someone who is openly gay. That would be the equivalent of being put in a submissive position as if your manhood is taken. The one and thing an openly gay MC can do…get them bars up and let the perverbial chips fall where they may. 

Hip­-Hop’s purpose is to unify the African-American community. It is
evident that Hip-­Hop’s main focus is to spit knowledge for the culture as well as promote the
unity that was lost in the 14th century, but how can a movement be progressive if it constantly disrespects the mothers of the movement. Should homosexuality be accepted into Hip­-Hop is like asking should your blood sister be considered a sister.Homosexuality has been frowned upon in the African-American culture for
centuries. Dating back to when homosexuality was demonized in African tribes by colonizers, homophobia has been the causing factor of spiritual violence against
Hip-­Hop. There have been many discussions on whether or not homosexuality should be accepted into Hip­-Hop. If you are a fan of Love & Hip-­Hop, then you may have ran across Love & Hip-­Hop: Hollywood Season 2 that starred bisexual rapper, Miles Brock and outspoken, gay producer, Milan Christopher.This particular season sparked much controversy and attention from the Hip-­Hop purists.

If we have artist that display true talent and can relay knowledge adequately to the
movements listeners, then what is the problem? Are the pioneers and recent artists of Hip­Hop not comfortable enough with themselves to see homosexual artists for merely their work and not their sexuality? Check out Ice Cube’s song “No Vaseline”, which was diss song to N.W.A group members and managers. Though the song was geared towards dissing his former members, Ice Cube also used derogatory language that attacked the homosexual community. Why is it that MC’s would diss another MC using their mother as a basis ( which was also another segment of the timeline that contributed to the disrespect of women of color in Hip-­Hop), but eventually added another extreme of disrespect when it comes to the disassociation with homosexuality, specifically in the African American. In the roundtable discussion on the LHH: Hip­-Hop , the rapper Fly Young Red discusses the controversy behind his song and video ” Throw That Boy P*ssy” and states that he makes music for “gay people” because of the simple fact that some artist incorporate homophobic slurs in their music and he feels personally attacked. Though Fly Young Red is entitled to his artistry, he also exploited men in the same exact way a heteroexual Hip­-Hop artist does when rapping about women, so the purpose of Hip-­Hop is to not to demonize or hypersexualize sexuality, but to provide knowledge of political occurrences that involve the future of Hip-­Hop , previous history that made Hip-­Hop and relatable experiences to the culture.

If artists continue to take on the demeanor of writing music that is exclusive as well as
against the different intersectionalities of the Hip-­Hop movement, then is Hip­-Hop’s purpose
successfully being fulfilled ? It is known that many Hip­-Hop artists are not comfortable with
themselves enough to respect women and respect those with different lifestyles, but the big
question is, are the artists of Hip-­Hop prepared cognitively and spiritually to surpass societal and Eurocentric worldviews of themselves and others in order to continue movement in the
movement? There are so many artist in Hip-­Hop that have contributed to the success of Hip­Hop and disowning them is disowning yourself. “It’s bigger than religion; Hip-­Hop”.

By Lyric Batemon

Posted by John the Revelator