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What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality [Paperback]

Daniel A. Helminiak
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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From Library Journal

Helminiak, a Roman Catholic priest, has done careful reading in current biblical scholarship about homosexuality. While cautioning against viewing biblical teaching as "the last word on sexual ethics," he stresses the need for accurate understanding of what the biblical "facts" are and concludes that "the Bible supplies no real basis for the condemnation of homosexuality." Using the studies of Yale historian John Boswell (Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, LJ 7/94), New Testament seminary professor L. William Countryman, and others, Helminiak examines the story of Sodom (where the sin was inhospitality), Jude's decrying sex with angels, and five texts-Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:27, I Corinthians 6:9, and I Timothy 1:10-all of which, he concludes, "are concerned with something other than homogenital activity itself." Highly recommended for all libraries.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Believing that the translation of the Bible they use consists of the inerrant word of God, some Christians cite a handful of passages to justify their condemnation of homosexuality. But historical biblical scholarship holds that these believers' conception of inerrancy is naively based, for English versions of the originally Hebrew and Greek scriptures are rife with problematic translations. Some scholars further maintain that the supposedly antihomosexual passages are not blanket condemnations of homosexual persons and acts. Indeed, in some cases, these verses aren't about homosexuality at all; they meant quite different things to those for whom they were first written, peoples whose social conceptions of sexuality were vastly different from ours. Helminiak provides cogent, accessible precis of these revisionist findings on the Bible's six major passages and few minor references that seem to denounce homosexuality. The Bible does not condemn gay sex as we understand it today, he concludes; those who seek to know outright if gay or lesbian sex is good or evil . . . will have to look elsewhere for an answer. An extremely valuable contribution to popular gay and biblical studies. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Reading Oct. 20 2002
Format:Paperback
I bought this mostly out of curiosity since Christianity seems to be the main source of the objection of homosexuality in our society. Not only did this book get me thinking on the issue of homosexuality and religion, but it has also prompted me to seek out other books on the Bible itself.
Before reading this, whether or not to take the Bible in a literal fashion has never been a question in my mind. By this, I'm not referring to whether or not the story of Adam and Eve is a parable or a truth. One of the issues brought forth in this book is the problems that arise when translating words literally as opposed to what the people who spoke Hebrew and Greek meant by them. Every language uses words differently. As many hundreds of years has passed since much of this text was originally written, in translating and reading them literally, we might very well be misunderstanding the meanings of the passages, if only mildly.
While one can look at this book as simply a study on whether or not homosexuality is broached in the Bible and, if it is, to what end, it's really more than that. It also provides a lot of information on what passages came from where, basic Biblical times history, and what the issues of those times were. It allows one to read the Bible with an understanding of the context of the times it was written in, which can only help to understand what it's saying.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Helminiak takes a straightforward scriptural approach by tackling the main witnesses (Genesis, Leviticus, Romans, 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy) in turn. Rejecting the literal view of Scripture he argues for the historical-critical approach, mainly with a detailed analysis for the meaning of words and their wider application elsewhere in the Bible. Additional contextual elements are brought in - for example ritual purity in the Old Testament - where necessary. However this is not a book about the OT and NT background to sexuality and ethics. Nor is it a book about the modern debate around Christianity and homosexuality, although it provides detailed background information on the scriptural elements that some have sought to use in justifying their condemnation of homosexuality.
The style is straightforward and easy to read, with Helminiak mainly presenting his own views, with the occasional short reference to other (usually contrary) viewpoints. This book is not a literature review, or balanced "state of play" of the academic, or popular, debate. To keep the text clear, he avoids footnotes and references but has a helpful short annotated bibliography of the main modern texts on the subject.
He stresses the need to see the scriptural usage in context, and manages - usually, but not always, convincingly - to portray both the OT and the NT as considering homosexuality (more accurately male-male genital acts) as socially unacceptable (in its context) and not a sin before God.
His overall conclusion is that the Bible really has very little to say about homogenital acts and nothing about homosexuality as we would consider it today. In this he follows others, such as Scroggs.
The strengths of this book are that it is short, readable and has a clear focus (on Scripture).
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3.0 out of 5 stars An intelligent study, but the purpose? Jan. 31 2003
Format:Paperback
"What the Bible Really Says ..." takes on the volatile argument of religion and its presumed negative moral influence on sexual orientation and/or same-sex practices. Author Daniel Helminiak develops an intelligent and scholarly thesis that Scripture has few minor references that condemn homosexuality and, a step further, that anti-gay biblical passages are not blanket condemnations of gay people and acts. Through it all and in the end, Helminiak theorizes that the Bible doesn't even address (therefore, condemn) same-gender sex as it is understood in contemporary terms and that anyone seeking the definitive answer about homosexuality being acceptable or evil, will need to find the answer somewhere else. It might seem this book is a self-study for gays, lesbians and bisexuals still closeted and resisting their orientation because of the moral condemnations of whatever their religions, and how they can see the faulty of their religious-based rejections by self and others. Indeed, if the closeted person remains closeted because of his self-disdain based on religious beliefs, this book may be a positive step toward self-acceptance and understanding....
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Interesting Look at How the Bible is Read Oct. 20 2002
Format:Paperback
I bought this mostly out of curiosity since Christianity seems to be the main source of the objection of homosexuality in our society. Not only did this book get me thinking on the issue of homosexuality and religion, but it has also prompted me to seek out other books on the Bible itself.
Before reading this, whether or not to take the Bible in a literal fashion has never been a question in my mind. By this, I'm not referring to whether or not the story of Adam and Eve is a parable or a truth. One of the issues brought forth in this book is the problems that arise when translating words literally as opposed to what the people who spoke Hebrew and Greek meant by them. Every language uses words differently. As many hundreds of years has passed since much of this text was originally written, in translating and reading them literally, we might very well be misunderstanding the meanings of the passages, if only mildly.
While one can look at this book as simply a study on whether or not homosexuality is broached in the Bible and, if it is, to what end, it's really more than that. It also provides a lot of information on what passages came from where, basic Biblical times history, and what the issues of those times were. It allows one to read the Bible with an understanding of the context of the times it was written in, which can only help to understand what it's saying.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Helminiak: Lying for Gays
When I received this book, the first thing I noticed was glowing endorsements from Spong and Countryman, neither of whom are exactly conservative theologians. Read more
Published on Aug. 27 2011 by rossuk
1.0 out of 5 stars Beware!
Obviously, whether you like this book or not will depend on what you want to hear. Those who are looking for justification for the reconciliation of homosexual practices with the... Read more
Published on Feb. 22 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars deeply flawed and full of wishful thinking
Daniel Helminiak tries to convince the reader that the Bible condemns only special kinds of homosexuality (e.g. Read more
Published on Nov. 29 2003 by micrei
2.0 out of 5 stars Clear, yet clearly biased
The author of this book attempts to put together a thesis proving the gay-friendliness of the Bible. Read more
Published on April 3 2003 by Stephen Richard Marks
5.0 out of 5 stars Sound exegesis on a sensitive issue
Dr. Helminiak uses sound exegesis and a good command of Biblical Greek and Hebrew to address the issue of homosexuality in the Scriptures in a solid and refreshing way. Read more
Published on Dec 26 2002 by Penny Duff
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite exhaustive but somewhat exhausting
While this book shines in its thoroughness, it fails to make a cohesive argument as a whole. Often several pages are spent examning the smallest of details of a Biblical passage,... Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2002 by See? I told you.
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Reading
I bought this mostly out of curiosity since Christianity seems to be the main source of the objection of homosexuality in our society. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2002 by No Word Crimes
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Reading
I bought this mostly out of curiosity since Christianity seems to be the main source of the objection of homosexuality in our society. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2002 by No Word Crimes
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Reading
I bought this mostly out of curiosity since Christianity seems to be the main source of the objection of homosexuality in our society. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2002 by No Word Crimes
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Reading
I bought this mostly out of curiosity since Christianity seems to be the main source of the objection of homosexuality in our society. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2002 by No Word Crimes
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