I don't talk about religion much these days. Every once in a while, though, I'll get in the mood to look something up. After decades of religious research, I still hold a fascination for the subject matter. It just became too difficult to talk about with people of faith because -- at a certain point -- it's not about discovering new truths anymore but maintain old predispositions.
Even so, I recently had a bit of a curfuffle over on a friend's post because a Christian apologist seemed to take offense regarding a quote that cited God as a She -- yes, as female.
Although the quote was about a general theistic deity and not the Christian God, per se, he still went on a rant about using the proper pronouns when discussing God.
I found this oddly amusing. Why would someone get so bent out of shape regarding the possibility of God being a She -- or possibly Alanis Morissette?
As such, I mentioned Jesus may have used "She" when talking about himself as modern homosexual men sometimes refer to the more diva-like gays as "She" or "Girl."
I meant it as a tongue-in-cheek reference to the real scholarly research on the subject, but I sometimes forget not everyone is as well read on the arcane subject matter of Christian history as I am and the Christian became offended mistaking my comments as, I can only assume, blasphemous slanders against his faith.
Although, I'm not a Christian, so crimes of blasphemy have no meaning to me as you need to first ascribe to the belief of the sacred in order to believe that the sacred has been defamed -- is largely a made-up crime created by believers for believers.
It's also why I think that any country that has anti-blasphemy laws are barbaric and immoral.
Holding a secular person (or a person of differing faith) accountable for the made up crime of blasphemy -- intended to police the language and thought of believers -- burdens the secular mind with the preconceived notion that the believer's worldview is the only correct worldview and that their secular views are wrong and dangerous enough to penalize. In so many cases, a person lacking a belief is then jailed or punished, in some countries caned or killed, simply for not allowing tyrannical dictators to dictate what they say or believe.
Anti-blasphemy laws are utterly senseless made up laws with no rational validity. They are by and large laughable, illogical, and unnecessarily cruel. If you couldn't tell, I really...really hate anti-blasphemy laws -- but that's why I compiled and edited this collection regarding the topic:
I was recently called out as "trolling" a Christian apologist when I mentioned Jesus and the disciples may have been homosexuals.
It's not my theory, but there is a scholarly opinion that Jesus and the 12 disciples were, perhaps, gay.
Some might find it laughable, others might feel angered by such an assumption. But, it's not as wild of an assumption as you initially might think.
Granted, it's not a mainstream Christian view, as Christian scholarship has been a dead field for over a decade now and new theories to account for anomalies in the data don't often come up anymore except where secular scholarship is concerned.
R. Joseph Hoffmann, a religious scholar at Harvard Divinity, wrote a fascinating essay on the inference of homosexuality within Jesus' inner circle of male followers.
The inference is a simple deduction via omission.
It's not dissimilar from making the assumption that an island of Amazonian warrior women was a real historical place, and that this all-exclusive female island must have had sexual relationships, and by the nature of being exclusively female we can make the inference that these Amazonian women -- in all probability -- had lesbian relationships. Hence the name of the island Lesbos from which the term *lesbian is derived.
One of the interesting observations that struck me was that if you were a first-century rabbi -- you were likely to be married -- and one of the rabbi's jobs was to talk about how the husband must treat the wife as well as the wife's duties to the husband -- even with respect to their personal relationships.
You find such teachings in other rabbinical writings, but not so much with Jesus (or what little we have of him actually talking about the subject of personal relationships).
Jesus, for the more part, didn't talk about sex at all. One hypothesis proffered is that if you live in a time when talking about your sexual preferences could very likely get you killed, you just never spoke about them.
This would then open up the possibility that the disciples were indeed homosexual, or, at least, they may have practiced male companionship in the same way the women on the island of Lesbos may have practice female companionship.
It's an interesting theory to ponder.
And, if the thought of Jesus or any of his disciples being gay offends you, apologies. This isn't meant to inflame people's emotions but merely offer an interesting assumption based on a simple inference given the historical data we have.
We know, for example, that male companionship was a common practice in the 1st-century Roman empire, especially within the ranks of the Roman army. In fact, it was such a common practice that sodomy even gets mentioned in the bible -- and only in the context that sodomy is to be frowned upon (usually because it involved sodomy of a non-consensual child).
But the bible itself says nothing as to continuing to have mature same-sex relationships or whether or not these are taboo in the eyes of the Christian God. That is an assumption apologists like to make based on a single anti-sodomy passage.
Of course, Leviticus 18 was in reference to Israelites only and not gentiles, Canaanites, or Egyptians. So, it's unclear whether this is a universal law since, in context, it only refers to sodomy being wrong for Israelites specifically.
Other verses like Romans 1:26-27 have been interpreted to mean so many different things, including regular intercourse between a man and woman in a brothel, that it's usually just generally cited as Paul's opinion on the subject -- not actually a religious law.
If you look in a biblical concordance, the word *homosexuality used in passages like 1 Timothy 1:8-11 or 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 are translations from the Greek word *Arsenokotai, which means bed + man with a sexual connotation, meaning male-bed.
But because the context of *arsenokotai is unclear, since only Paul uses it, whether it means for men to sleep with men, or to enter a den of prostitution that caters to men, is entirely unclear.
This is the problem with biblical scholarship, we often times simply don't know. As such, the passage is often rendered as "sodomites" rather than homosexuals, because it's not clear as to whether it's referring to men+men or men+anybody (although some bibles disingenuously render it as *homosexuals -- even though that's unclear and the definition is entirely different than sodomite in any given context from the 1st century).
Of course, Hoffmann's paper examines key scripture that supports the idea of Jesus and his apostles of practicing male companionship to an extent, but as with most historical reconstruction where the evidence is limited -- assumptions are all that can be made.
Here's the weird part though, we have the same amount of evidence that Jesus was straight as we do that he was gay.
I mean, one can find the inference disagreeable, but you can't deny it as a real possibility because it is at least as well supported as any assumption of heterosexual norms. That just goes to show that the genuine historical evidence we can glean of Jesus's time on Earth is quite lacking.
As the scholar Richard Carrier once put it, all we actually have are stories about Jesus by Christians who came decades after him.
Stories about Christianity by Christians for Christians.
If you want a more accurate history, you have to go beyond mere Christian stories. You have to examine the passages in their historical context and make inferences based on what we know from other sources about a similar subject matter. That's the only way plausible recreations of history can be made. In the end, though, they're still mainly just assumptions--albeit assumptions backed up by better sources than mere stories.
Examinations like this fascinate me, however, because it shows really how much of religious faith, in this case: Christianity, is a collection of unproven assumptions.
Usually, the kind that requires a Kirkgardian leap of faith -- meaning that there is no direct evidence to prove it either way but you go with your preconceived feelings and accept them as the de facto truth regardless of what the evidence might suggest (or, often times, the lack thereof).
This highlights one of the reasons I left Christianity.
I just came to realize it was a system of cobbled together beliefs that couldn't demonstrate themselves in any meaningful way with respect to an unadulterated truth.
As with most historical reconstructions, the historical aspects of Christianity rely so heavily on assumption-making that if you were to get rid of every biblical-based assumption that wasn't directly supported by a plethora of historical evidence you'd practically be left with nothing. That is to say, almost nothing is supported in the way of evidence. All you have is an unbuttressed kind of faith that assumes its history fits with its preconceived theological ideas.
That's an empty sort of faith, if you ask me. I like degrees of certainty and the confidence to say one way or another, but that's just me. Then again, if one requires evidence to believe then it wouldn't be called Faith, now, would it?
But this is often the way religions operate. They don't go by critical analysis, evidential support, or logical inference -- they go by tradition, emotion, and unquestioning faith predicated on predispositions to accept unverified truths as metaphysical certainties.
And although certain theological presumptions regarding such metaphysical considerations may be logically sound, so too is the mathematics behind M-theory or Super String Theory. But having a logically sound premise is different than proving a theory a fact of reality, whether it's String Theory or religious faith.