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Which Sexual Orientation is Valid? Homosexual, Heterosexual or Bisexual?

Homosexual orientation is the hype word today. Homosexual orientation says: a person in his sexuality is focussed on a person of the same sex and not on a person of the opposite sex. It is frequently assumed that the Bible writers did not know about mutually caring same-sex relationships. It is further believed that such mutually caring same-sex relationships originated in modern times. It is also the contention of the pro-homosexual lobby that there is no Greek or Hebrew word for homosexual; the word homosexual was first used in 1869.

This last statement is correct. There is no word in both languages describing what we understand to be a homosexual which transliterates from Hebrew or Greek into homosexual. But both languages do contain phrases describing a person who engages in homosex, just as the word homosexual does in English. Collins Dictionary (2000) defines homosexual as, a person who is sexually attracted to members of the same sex. The Bible’s definition of a homosexual is, a man (who) lies with a man as one lies with a woman (Lv.20:13); men exchanged natural relations (sex) with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts (sex) with other men (Rom. 1:27); and some were bedders of men (1 Cor. 6:9). It is absolutely clear that the Bible describes precisely what we today understand to be a homosexual. There is no difference between the homosexual sexual act of antiquity and the modern homosexual sexual act. The act defines the doer thereof as a homosexual.

To help to understand the concept of sexual orientation the American Psychological Association (1999) made available the following definition:

"Sexual orientation is an enduring emotional, romantic, sexual or affectional attraction to another person. Sexual orientation exists along a continuum that ranges from exclusive homosexuality to exclusive heterosexuality and includes verious forms of bisexuality. Bisexual can experiance sexual, emotional, affectional attraction to both their own sex and the opposite sex. Persons with a homosexual orientation are sometimes refered to as gay (both men and woman) or as lesbian (woman only). Sexual orientation is diferant from sexual behaviour because it refers to feelings and self-concept. Persons may or may not express their sexual orientation in their behaviours."

This is however, a dangerous definition because it assumes three sexual natures and accepts homosexuality as a normal variant of sexuality.

It is wrong to assume that the Bible writers had no knowledge about mutually caring same-sex relationships. Numerous examples of emotional statements about the beauty of same-sex love are to be found in Graeco-Roman literature. Paul probably knew several types of homosexual relationships and practices among both men and women. The pro-homosex author Boswell1 lists the following examples: Euripides was the lover of Agathon when Euripides was seventy two and Agathon was forty; Parmenides and Zenon were in love when the former was sixty-five and the latter forty; Alcibiades was already full bearded when Socrates fell in love with him. He also says, the actual age of the male involved may have mattered to some Greeks; to others it obviously did not… Most used terms which suggested erotic attraction for young men and for older males interchangeably.

Smith2 mentions for example, Xenophon of Ephesus in his second century novel, Ephesiaca, (where he) introduces Hippothoos, a truly versatile man who was in love with a male his own age, an older woman, and a younger man.

Springett3 quotes Suetonius’s reference to the emperor Galba who showed a preference for mature and sturdy men. It is said when Icelus, one of his old-time bedfellows brought the news of Nero’s death, Galba openly showered him with kisses and begged him to get ready and have intercourse with him without delay.

So it is obvious that homoeroticism in antiquity manifested itself in all forms; between man and boy, between young adult males, between adult males of unequal age, between adult males of roughly equal age, between adult males who alternated in the roles of active and passive partner, between bi-sexuals and homosexual marriages. The extant sources for Graeco-Roman homosexual practices also provide evidence for female homosexuality, often relationships of mutual consent without reference to active-passive distinctions or age differentiation or exploitation.

Suetonius’ biographies of the twelve Caesars from Julius Caesar through to Domitian, are a catalogue of astounding psychosexual disease, from incest to transvestism. Julius Caesar (58-44BC) slept his way to early success in the bed of King Nicodemus of Bithynia; he depilated his body and was called the Queen of Bithynia and every woman’s man and every man’s woman. Tiberius (14-37AD) retired to a pleasure palace on Capri where he kept spintriae (effeminate homosexuals). Caligula (37-41AD) committed incest with three of his sisters, indulged in both heterosexual and homosexual acts and often appeared in public dressed as a woman. Nero (54-68AD) was introduced to homosexuality by his tutor Seneca. He slept with his mother and had her assassinated. Nero raped the virgin Rubria, castrated the boy Sporus and married him. Vitellius (69AD) earned the throne by being a spintriae for Tiberius at Capri in his boyhood and depended for political advice on his catamite Asiaticus. Titus (79-81AD) kept a troop of inverts and eunuchs. Domitian (81-96AD) at first forbade castration, enforced laws against adultery and child prostitution and had many men convicted under the old Scantinian Law that forbade homosexual relations with freeborn boys, but later in his life he succumbed to bisexuality, which dominated him.

It is interesting to note how the Apostle Paul’s lifespan relates to those of the twelve emperors:

Julius Caesar : 58-44 BC
Augustus : 27-14 AD
Tiberius : 14-37 AD
Caligula : 37-41 AD
Claudius : 41-54 AD
Nero : 54-68 AD
Galba : 69 AD
Otho : 69 AD
Vitellius : 69 AD
Vespasian : 69-79 AD
Titus : 79-81 AD
Domitian : 81-96 AD

Paul’s life parallels three (Tiberius, Caligula and Nero) of the worst sexually immoral emperors out of the twelve mentioned.

Homosexual behaviour in Rome spanned the total spectrum from occasional and casual indulgence through transvestism. There was, however, none of the pedagogic rationalisation of the Greeks.

All the above reiterates the fact that Paul indeed knew more forms of homosexuality than just pederasty and what we today understand to be homosexual orientation was definitely also known in antiquity, albeit not by that name, but definitely its manifestation in heterosexual, homosexual and bi-sexual practice. The Bible recognises only one valid form of sexual practice. It is sex between a man and a woman within marriage. All other sexual practices were seen as perversion of this principle. The whole of the Bible, its authors and characters, practiced and professed only heterosexuality. No provision is made for any other form of sexual practice although all other deviant forms were known in antiquity. Paul was born 6AD and died in 67AD after writing his epistles ca. 50-6 AD.

References:

  • 1 Boswell, 1980, 27-30.
  • 2 Smith, 1996: 236-237.
  • 3 Springett,1988. (Galba 21).
  • 4 Karlen, 1971:50; Vanggaard, 1972:131