Thou shall not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination.
If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
These verses seem straight-forward, right? God is seemingly against homosexuality and calls for gays to be put to death. There is just one small problem. It's the English translation that seems so straight-forward. The Hebrew wording is actually open to interpretation.
When you read, "lie", "to lie with", etc., with regard to a man and another man, the actual Hebrew word used is shakab. Shakab means "to lie, lay" but through coercion or forcing of sex. In modern times we would interpret it as rape. The word shakab is used dozens of times in the old testament and always concerns what we call rape or in the very least, to pressure a person into having sex. Using deception to get someone to have sex is also an aspect of shakab. For example, the word shakab is used when Lot's daughters purposefully get him drunk in order to have sex with him in hopes of getting pregnant. They literally raped their own father. When you read "lieth with a woman", etc., the Hebrew word used is mishkab. Mishkab means "bed" but is used here to mean to play the passive or receptive role in sex or to submit.
Now, my readers who read my blog, What Did Jesus Say About Homosexuals Part 2 should know the following information. For those who have not read that blog let me recap it again here.
It all started with the ancient Greeks. The Greeks developed a complicated version of homosexuality that evolved rules and taboos. Though homosexuality itself was never considered wrong or immoral, anything that breached the gender roles and expectations of behavior were a huge no-no. The Greeks strongly believed in traditional gender roles and behavior. Men were to be masculine and women were to be feminine. So anything that violated gender roles and behavior was considered unacceptable. For the Greeks, two males could engage in sexual activity with one another as long as no one was penetrated orally or anally. Any man who allowed another man to penetrate him was guilty of not acting manly, that is, of acting like a woman, and was shamed. There was no shame placed on the man who penetrated the other man because the male gender role is to play the role of penetrator.
Instead of oral or anal sex, Greek male lovers practiced what we would call mutual masturbation as well as a non-penetrative sex act called intercrural sex. Intercrural sex is when one man inserts his penis between the thighs of his male lover and then thrusts until orgasm.
These rules of homoseuxality only applied to citizens. Slaves had no rights and could be penetrated by their masters if they so desired. It was this institutionalized form of homosexuality that spread across much of the ancient world. The Romans assuredly adopted it and likewise brought it to places where it was not known before.
So let's go back to the verses. Let me translate it in the correct light of what I have explained the Hebrew words mean. My translation is as follows:
"You shall not coerce or force a fellow man into allowing you to penetrate him."
Folks, what we have here is simply the Hebrew adoption of this Greek institutionalized concept of homosexuality. Note that the verses do not reference all sexual activity between two men. Instead, the verses are only referring to the act of penetration.
If this is the "law" then we should all know that the law must be worded correctly to not allow loop holes. The biggest loop hole in this "law" is that as long as one doesn't get penetrated then one can have other forms of same-sex sexual activity, which is the Greek ideal that was adopted by the Hebrews.
I would like my readers to please take note that these verses speak nothing about two men who are both willing to engage in sexual activity. The key word, shakab, means to coerce or force, as in our modern word rape. Consensual same-sex penetration is not even addressed in the verses. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that these verses are not geared to homosexuals and are not a condemnation of two male lovers in a committed relationship. Instead, these passages are against men raping other men and men who do not want to be orally or anally penetrated submitting to the sex act in response to the force used by the other man.
There is another component to these verses. When they are taken together in their context it is clear these verses are connected to the subject of idolatry and the worship of pagan gods. However, that's a subject that I have touched on before and will expand further in a separate blog.