John McNeill: Homophobic Abuse and Distortion of Scripture

Guestpost:

Gay theologian, psychotherapist and former Jesuit, Dr Fr John McNeill has sent me this commentary on Renato Ling’s interpretation of Leviticus 18:22:

John McNeill

The recent effort of evangelical pastor Martin Ssempa under the tutelage of American Evangelicals to pass a “kill the gays” bill in the Uganda parliament and the extensive persecution of GLBT people throughout eastern Africa is based primarily on a questionable interpretation of a passage in Leviticus 18: 22.

The words of the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Vatican Council II deal with the interpretation of Sacred Scripture:

“Since God speaks in Sacred Scripture through men in a human fashion, the interpreter of sacred Scripture, in order to see clearly what God wanted to communicate to us, should carefully investigate what meaning the sacred writers really intended, and what God wanted to manifest by means of their words”

This cautious investigation of the intention of the human author is especially called for in dealing with the biblical passages which traditionally been accepted as dealing with homosexual activity. We are keenly aware that back in the days of slavery, slave owners regularly quoted passages from scripture to justify keeping slaves as God’s will. There is a real possibility that the homophobia of the translators and their culture has led to a distortion of the meaning of scripture.

The best way to arrive at an understanding of what the author means by this verse is to read it within the overall context of Leviticus. “Just as the overall aim of Leviticus is to ban incestuous heterosexual practices. Lev. 18.22 may well be there to ensure that homosexual incest is added to the list of proscriptions

This understanding of Leviticus frees us from making the assertion that God wills the death or imprisonment of all those humans that God created gay.

John McNeill’s Books:


John McNeill’s Books:

The Church and the Homosexual

Freedom, Glorious Freedom

Both Feet Firmly Planted in mid-Air

Taking a Chance on God

Sex as God Intended

John McNeill’s Websites:

johnmcneill.com

mauriceblondel.com


Clobber Texts: A New Reading of Leviticus

As I continue to investigate the issues around faith and sexuality, I am constantly in search of reliable information and analyses to set against the misinformation, selective quotations and misinterpretations that masquerade as the conventional wisdom on the subject. Recently, I was delighted when three different readers brought my attention to two useful sources, which between them contain some important, thoughtful material that deserves to be taken seriously.

The first of these that I want to introduce to you is an article by Renato Lings called “The Lyings of a Woman: Male-Male Incest in Leviticus 18:22”, in the peer review journal “Theology and Sexuality”. This journal, edited by the renowned theologians Gerald Loughlin and Elizabeth Stuart, carries an impressive range of scholarly articles, many in the fields of gay and lesbian theology, and of queer theology. (A second article in the same issue is on “Queer Worship”, which I have scheduled for publication tomorrow).

Dr Renato Lings

It was the well known and highly respected theologian James Alison, (who writes “from a perspective Catholic and gay) who referred me to “The Lyings of a Woman.” He wrote to me that he considered it an important article, and suggested that I get a suitable person to write a full review of it, for publishing here at QTC. I agreed fully with his assessment, and plan to publish a couple of such reviews shortly – one by John McNeill, and one by an Old Testament specialist from the Pacific Centre for Religion. I will publish these commentaries as soon as I receive them) . Read the rest of this entry »