27 April 2007

Indiana billboard vandalised

The billboard had said, "Jesus affirmed a gay couple". Hmmm... is that really so? I asked myself. Guest essay.


Teck Soon said...

I have seen this passage before and remember reading somewhere that the word "servant" is a translation that carries less meaning in English than the original Greek word used in that verse.

From my understanding (and please, allow a Biblical scholar to correct me), there are several different Greek words that all translate into the English word "servant", and that in this particular case, the word "servant" implies a homosexual relationship.

Perhaps it was translated from the original Greek inadequately from the first English translation in Medieval times, to cover up the homosexual suggestion, given the social situation at the time.

Anonymous said...

It does seem that you're rather obsessed with getting biblical approval for being gay. If Christians or other religious groups are against homosexuality, your not being a religious scholar (as in, you didn't study Hebrew and ancient religous texts, etc. in the original languages) means you're not really in a position to convincingly refute their position. (This new interpretation of the Centurian story frankly sounds way out based on the English translation. Relying on what is said to be a norm at that time ... that just can't be verified easily by even the industrious reader.) Really, that homosexuality is normal (being a consequence of genetic variation, which is at least supported by many scientists in this day) or at least an exercise of individual choice that does not impose on others, is more than enough justification. You've argued several times on your blog that the functioning of society should not be beseiged by religious beliefs. But you're allowing this to happen by constantly engaging in this homosexuality is right or wrong according to religion debate. Please, drop it!

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

To anonymous 27 April 20:42 -

I get your point that by constantly engaging religion, one undercuts the argument that religion should stay out of public life.

Yet there is the intellectual question - what exactly does that religion's scriptures say, and how many ways are there to interpret it?

Personally, I'm not willing to let my political goals shut down my intellectual curiosity. It would be a sad day if we stopped ourselves from thought and enquiry because such might run counter to whatever goals we have set for ourselves, kind of like saying the ends justify self-censorship?

Furthermore, I don't know whether you noticed, but I didn't write that analysis, a friend of mine (who is Christian) did, so I'm not pretending to be the one interpreting Christianity for Christians.

Anonymous said...

"Why would a centurion say to a Jewish teacher that he is undeserving of that teacher coming into his house? Unless of course one begins to wonder if the servant and the centurion had a special relationship which was common in Roman times (i.e. a homosexual relationship)."
It seems to be quite a stretch to argue that the centurion could feel undeserving ONLY IF he had a "special relationship" width his servant. Surely the fact that he believed Jesus to be a holy man with miracle healing power would be sufficient for him to feel unworthy.

Anonymous said...

Jesus came to save everyone - the downtrodden, poor, rich, adulterers, prostitutes. I have no doubt in my mind there were homosexuals at his time, and his message of love and tolerance extends to them as well. If the authors of the bibles were homophobes censoring portions of the texts in the bible, I am not surprised either. Should I love gays and lesbians lesser - are they less deserving of God's grace? Why?

JohnM said...

Well, I can help you there regards the original Greek, Alex. I just checked and the language is a bit murkier than I thought.

The word 'servant' is normally used in the King James Bible for the Greek word 'doulos' with the 'd' being delta (and pronounced like the article 'the'). Doulos means slave.

In the original, however, in both Matthew and Luke there are two words used interchangeably for that particular 'servant'. One is indeed 'doulos' and the other is 'pais' (pronounced 'pes' with a long e) which means child, boy. (It is the word that has given us, among others, 'paedophilia'). So the centurion sometimes calls his servant his 'boy' and sometimes his 'slave'. Make of that what you wish :-) but reading it in the original Greek the impression I get is of a familial bond rather than a master-servant relationship. Maybe children were also considered the 'property' of the father until they reached maturity. We need to ask a historian for that.

Anonymous said...

This point, which seems more probable to me, is missed. The centurion is a gentile, and Jews then were not expected to visit a gentile at his residence. This is the cultural and religious context of the day. But the centurion was obviously a God-believing gentile, and this may reasonably make him more sensitive to the Jewish laws then.

So for him to say "Lord, don't trouble yourself, for I do not deserve to have you come under my roof", it seems more probable to be from cultural/religious consideration, then personal self-pity.

Now let's for a moment consider the case that it may really be from self-pity (from the homo relationship). We see throughout the gospels that Jesus had been more keen to address the root issue of people's lives instead of the superficial. Example, he chose to forgive a sick man his sins first, before proceeding to heal him.

So in our case, Jesus would be more likely to choose to ADDRESS the centurion's self-pity and self-deprecation (due to his supposed homo relationship) first instead of the slave's dire physical condition. But he didn't even mention a word of it.

I can think of more arguments but let's leave it as that, especially since i'm 2 years late.