Before and Beyond the “People of the Book”
Christianity did not enter the world independently of other religions, or uninfluenced by them. It began as a Jewish sect, and still shares with Judaism a major part of its scriptures and traditions. The Jews in turn were just one small ethnic group in a diverse Mediterranean world of conflicting cultures and civilizations, subject to repeated conflict and war with their neighbours, and to repeated bouts of conquest and slavery. One characteristic feature of the Jews was how resolutely they identified themselves in religious terms, as recognising only a single God, who had chosen them as his people. In loyalty to this one God, they increasingly sought to distance themselves from all outside religious influences. What were the characteristics of these other religions, in their responses to human sexuality?
Studies of the animal kingdom, and of non-Western and pre-industrial societies show clearly that there is no single “natural” form for either human or animal sexuality. Homosexual activity has been described by science for all divisions of the animal kingdom, in all periods of history, and in all regions of the world. Most religions recognise this. The monotheistic Christian religion teaches that God made us in His own image and likeness – but other religions, when they attempted to picture their many gods and goddesses, created their gods in human image and likeness, and so incorporated into their pantheon many gods who had sex with males – either divine or human.
Some Gods of Same Sex Love
Early Homoerotic Gods in the Mediterranean World
More Greek and Roman Gods
Sexual and Gender Fluidity in the Hindu Pantheon
Divine Homoeroticism in the New World
The Jewish Scriptures
The Hebrews’ concept of a single all-powerful God did not incorporate any concept of divine sexuality, but they did include into their Scriptures numerous passages that describe same sex loving relationships, as well as tales of eunuchs as prophets.
The First and Greatest Love Story in Scripture: God and Adam
Joseph and Potiphar
Daniel the Prophet
The Three Young Men
The Song of Songs: A Homoerotic Love Poem?
The Christian New Testament
The Christian Gospels offer tantalizing hints at Jesus’ own sexuality, which may have included some male love interest. However, more directly relevant to us are His teaching and example , which clearly show that His message is an inclusive one, that quite explicitly does include sexual minorities of all kinds.
After the Gospels, the most important Christian writings are the letters of Paul, who has a reputation as strongly condemning same sex behaviour – but a more careful consideration of his life as well as his letters, in their own context, can offer a different perspective.
John the Beloved Disciple,
Jesus and the Naked Young Man
Jesus and the Gay Centurion
Jesus’ Gay Wedding Feast at Cana
The Gospel’s Queer Values
St Paul the Apostle