It’s been argued that the first time homosexuals, or homosexual acts are addressed in the New Testament is in Romans the 1st chapter (mainly verses 26 and 27). That is if you disregard the two occasions that eunuchs are mentioned (sorry, that’s another Bible Study). And like other scriptures, this one has been misinterpreted, taught in error, and caused much spiritual and emotional harm to same gender loving people.
The thing most people who erroneously teach this scripture seem to forget is, when interpreting scripture, you cannot just take one or two verses of a chapter, build a sermon, teach it as “God’s Word” and live it as a doctrine. You have to carefully see what the scripture (and all others relating to it) is saying. It’s been advised that we read the chapter before, and after the chapter we are studying so that we can get some type of contextual view of what the author was talking about. In this case, we are dealing with Apostle Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome. In fact, the text in verse 7 says it…”my dear friends in Rome” (New Living Translation). Since that’s who he was addressing, we have to infer that he was dealing with their situation. Am I saying that he couldn’t have any relevant truth for 21st Century America? Not at all. I AM saying that if we are going to correctly interpret what is being said, we need to understand that first and foremost, who Paul was addressing was 1st Century Rome. Let’s take a closer look and find out what that truth is.
The first thing we need to address is the cultural climate of biblical Rome. It was a societal norm for people to be bisexual. And with that being the “normal” sexuality that society ascribed to, it was expected for everyone to be that way. Since now we know that all people aren’t bisexual (in fact most are heterosexual), we can understand how pressured a heterosexual or homosexual person would be to engage in acts that weren’t “natural” for him or her. The definition of the word “natural” in this text comes from the Greek word “phusikos”, meaning instinctive or native disposition. If a person is a native to some place, they were born there. So, a native disposition would be how a person is born. The word “nature” in this text likewise comes from the Greek word “phusis”, which means production or lined descent; growth by germination, or native disposition. Just keep “instinctive/native disposition” in mind.
When Paul talks about the “natural use” of the woman, he is coming from several different places. First from a place of male dominance that thought that the only use a woman has is having babies to continue the man’s lineage. That’s all. A woman was a man’s property (paid for with a dowry)…his “baby maker” per se. So any sexual deviation that would produce offspring was not looked upon favorably. In fact, not until this century did some in the church start teaching that sex had more that just a procreative purpose.
Secondly, Paul was coming from a sexual orientation angle. He was not making a blanket statement of what is and isn’t “natural”. He couldn’t have been. Science has proven that in all species of animals, homosexuality is present (ref. “Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity” by Bruce Bagemihl). So, since homosexuality occurs in nature, it cannot be considered unnatural. And since most people are instinctively heterosexual and that is their native disposition, it IS highly unnatural for one to do otherwise. In this scripture, Paul is telling the Romans that it is unnatural for a person to go against their “native disposition” or what is “instinct” for them and do something else with their bodies to fit in. Now, we can jump on the ex-gay and DL thing right here, but we don’t have the space or time. But do you get the point? If your nature is heterosexual, be that. If you are born homosexual, be that. If you indeed are bisexual, then that’s you. Don’t try to change who you are to fit societal norms. It’s like telling God that He made you the wrong way.
Next, Paul was dealing with some religious issues as well. Paul in fact is saying homosexual activity is not a sin, but a punishment for idol worship and faithlessness. It is a result of heterosexuals not worshipping God but His creation. Turning the truth into a lie. Denying God. His argument is, if a man (being straight) is SO confused and faithless that he cannot discern who God is when creation even tells of His existence, then it’s not so far fetched that that same man (being straight) would be confused sexually and do what is unnatural for him to do. These verses couldn’t be an blanket indictment against homosexuality in that most of the most highly anointed, profound, gifted, talented, and FAITHFUL Christians are homosexual people.
Finally, Paul was dealing with what was going on in Rome from the standpoint of a Jew. There were just some things that were not customary or “natural” for a good Jew to do. Not to say that there are no homosexual Jews, there are. But one must remember that Paul was a very well educated and respected man in his time. He was a good Jew who knew and tried his best to live by “the law” according to the Torah. So to be in another land (not native to Israelites) and submerged into another culture (Rome) trying to live according to how Jews “customarily” or “normally” lived, it must have been hard to do since the society was so different.
So, is Romans 1.26-27 a blanket indictment against homosexuals? With the information we have, we can say no. Paul was more than likely addressing cultural, religious, and orientation issues in this scripture. Contrary to popular opinion, the theme of this text isn’t homosexuality. In fact it isn’t about sexuality at all. It’s about people keeping in mind who God is. It’s about understanding that humanity is without excuse when it comes to reverencing God in that creation itself tells of His glory. It’s about understanding the truth and the fact that it comes from God. And lastly, it’s about not being judgmental or hypocritical. Remember when we said that one should study the chapter before and after the text being focused upon? Well, Romans Chapter 2.1-7 Paul gets on people who are pointing at those who have forgotten God and saying how wicked they are, yet are doing the same things. Bottom line, God judges sin. It doesn’t matter who you are. Make sure you are right with God for yourself. Let God handle the rest in His own way.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is one of my favorite shows on television. Anyone who knows me will be able to attest to that fact. I’m always intrigued by the Creativity, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent that most drag queens possess. Their being able to transform and create the female illusion is the ultimate for me. One of my favorite contestants this past season was Mariah Balenciaga. HUN-T WAS FIERCE!!! Mariah captured everything that is femininity and presented it with class, elegance and REALNESS. To me, she pays true homage to the feminine. To me, the realness factor is paramount.
One thing most drag queens have is quick whit and sharp tongues. It’s really an endearing quality. And I love the ones who “keep it real”. Keeping it real, one would assume would be defined as one always having the courage to be truthful, to walk in integrity. “Realness” would be a good thing. In a perfect world, whether in full geech or in real life, being able to truly serve realness should be something we all aspire to. But more often than not, like good drag, what is perceived as “realness” is just an illusion. For some people, their realness is just as deep as the makeup and costumes they would wear to lipsinc for their lives.
In this day and age, it seems like people actually prefer illusion to realness. What does it say about us? Have people become so jaded that we’d rather present and celebrate illusions than living authentic lives? Has “keeping it real” become an illusion itself?
Too often in gay culture, we see people say and do mean and hurtful things to other people. It’s normal. In fact the arrogance and cattiness is expected and seen as just a part of being gay. But does it really have to be that way? It’s one thing to read someone for pure filth because they are coming for you and you haven’t sent for them… that’s merely self defense. But it’s quite another to just be mean and hateful.
Usually the mean and hateful queens are truly insecure little boys (or girls) who are trying to present the illusion that they are grand. People who are ALWAYS in “reading mode” or are always catty are trying to hide something. They are trying to hide the fact that what they are presenting is not reality. In fact, their reality is too hard for THEM to deal with, so they treat others badly trying to make themselves feel better about their own lives. It’s really sad when you think about it. When it’s easier for a person to attempt to live their illusion than present a real person to the world, there’s a big problem. It’s dangerous for the lines of realness and illusion to be blurred.
One thing about drag, when it’s done well, it’s very entertaining. Being able to serve realness is indeed a beautiful thing. And from what I understand, one can make MAD coins. But when the music stops, when the deejay and the crowd goes home, and the lights go out, the illusion stops and real life begins. Sure, we all have a persona that we present to the world. Thing is, what we present to others should be the real us, not an illusion or a character we’ve created. If one truly has the courage, keeping it real is more beautiful than any illusion will ever be. If only more people understood that.
In the classic movie “To Wong Foo: Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar”, the late Ms. Vida Boheme taught us one valuable lesson that everyone must learn to live… REAL queens always use their powers for good, and in every situation, seek out the opportunity to help others. THAT my dear, is better than the best illusion. It’s realness at its finest.
This weekend I am out on a retreat in the mountains. Me and Hubz in a luxury log cabin, and the view outside our bedroom makes me celebrate how BIG GOD must be. It’s just so quiet out here. No sounds of the city, no sirens, no trains, no traffic… just peace.
Last night, it was so dark outside with no street lights or anything to illuminate the roads. In fact, it was so dark it made trying to drive through the mountains to reach the cabins very dangerous. No guard rails or anything to keep you on the road should you swerve or take one of the too many curves too fast. And it was so quiet my spirit couldn’t help but be quiet and rest.
This morning, WAY before I wanted to wake up, I went out and walked Lady Savannah, and for the first time, I felt dew between my toes. There must be at least 100 types of trees right out here. All of them speaking to how glorious diversity is. If only human beings could learn how to live and thrive together like the trees. The sun seems to shine a little bit brighter out here than in ATL. All the colors I see just seem so vivid. It’s absolutely beautiful. Breathing and relaxing seems to be a lot easier.
Right now, in this moment, looking at all the trees and the mountains, allowing myself to take in all this nature, I am in awe and asking GOD, “What lesson am I supposed to learn from all this? What are you going to teach me”? I am hearing Spirit say, “Uncover your light. Uncover your light”.
Inside me lies the same power that spoke into darkness and created everything that I am seeing here. I can create not just beautiful things that speak to the spirit, but entire environments that can inspire and bring peace. Somehow the light within that makes all that happen has been covered. Though covered, I’m thankful and relieved to know it’s still there.
Yesterday, the weatherman said this week there will be 10-20 more inches of snow falling on top of the 21 inches that fell over the past weekend. Being a country boy from Wichita Falls, Texas, that’s more snow than I have ever seen in my entire life. The snow just looks so beautiful, well until I had to shovel some of it.
Watching the news I saw reports of mudslides in California. And how could I forget the tragedy in Haiti? How could I not remember to pray for those who are suffering? I can’t help but think that maybe Mother Nature has something important to tell us.
All of it made me think about the majesty of God. Looking outside my window made me marvel at the might of His hand…how BIG He truly must be. It also made me think about how small I am in the larger scheme of things.
I remembered be taught how men (humans) were created to “subdue and have dominion over the earth”. I was taught that it is man’s job; his rightful place to rule as “a god” over all that was created. With all that’s going on with nature, it doesn’t look like man has much dominion at all.
Then it hit me, man (human beings) are not “above” nature, we are “a part of” nature. If anything at all, we are subject to nature. The 21 plus inches of snow paralyzed the nation’s capitol. No one could safely drive anywhere. People were having heart attacks just trying to clear the snow from their driveways. Hundreds of thousands were left without power. And need I recap the countless people who are lost and/or dead in Haiti?
When God speaks through us through nature, it’s in our best interest to listen. At the risk of sounding fatal, I think the message is if we don’t take care of the earth, the earth will stop taking care of us. Before the earth let’s us destroy her, she will destroy us.