Tuesday’s Thoughts: An Artful Response

I am reading 1 Corinthians in Christian scripture or the Greek Testament. I have hit the beginning of Paul's clobber passages. What is a clobber passage? It is a passage that some take to clobber the LGBTQ community and drive us out of the church or to try and get us to not be LGBTQ. But, as you will see, it isn't that easy. We must always be mindful when we read. Whose ideas are we ready? What of our own ideas are we using to put onto the meaning of the author? What is meaning being mediated through?

Onward!

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Inspired by 1 Corinthians 5-7

sitting on the throne
acting as judge and jury
pronouncements of guilt

There is so much in these chapters but they all go together. Starting with chapter 7, that is where the contexting question comes in: "Now, about what you wrote: "It's good for a man not to have sex with a woman." That sets the stage for all 3 chapters.

In ch. 5 & 6, Paul lists what he considers to be people not to hang with: sexually immoral, greedy, false god worshipper, abusive person, drunk, or a swindler (chapter 5) and adds adulterers, soft people*, male beds*, thieves (added in chapter 6).

Why did I put an asterisk in my list?  In my translation it combines these into "both participants in same-sex intercourse." First, women are never ever mentioned. But is this what it really says? NOPE.

The Greek (putting it into our alphabet): ...oute malakoi oute apoenokoitai oute…

oute=nor

malakoi=soft OR a word referring to pre-pubescent boy sex slaves

arsenokoitai=a made up word found nowhere else except in two of Paul's letters. it is a combination of the word male and bed. So male-bed. “male” (arsen) and “bed” (koitas) What is a male-bed, you ask? Well, nobody really knows. But it is male behavior that Paul isn't fond of.

Remember the contexting question? Men are not having sex with "women." What we know is that the word used here for woman, gunai, is the word used for WIFE. So men are not having sex with their wives. Who are they having sex with? There are a lot of choices. Also, contexting, what do we know Paul loves? Celibacy. What does he hate? Marriage. Marriage is reserved for those who cannot control their libidos.

Let's retranslate this list of things men shouldn't do:

...nor have sex with boy sex slaves nor should men have sex indiscriminately, they should save themselves for marriage or for celibacy (like Paul!)...

Anyway, this is a lot. I imagine Paul as a judge. He's moved from advocating against legalism to throwing down a bunch of rules. Which just goes to show you how much conflict the early community was in.

But what we do know is that this text is not against LGBTQIA+ folks or their relationships.

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