"Given the traditional Orthodox understanding of the Old and New Testament scriptures as expressed in the Church's liturgical worship, sacramental rites, canonical regulations and lives and teachings of the saints, it is clear that the Orthodox Church identifies solidly with those Christians, homosexual and heterosexual, who consider homosexual orientation as a disorder and disease, and who therefore consider homosexual actions as sinful and destructive." -- Fr. Thomas Hopko
Alice C. Linsley
In the contemporary dispute over homosexuality the Bible plays a less significant role than in the past because it is viewed as a book of miracles and supernatural revelation, having nothing to do with science and the modern understanding of sexuality. This is not based on an objective assessment of what the Bible says about homosexuality. It is rooted in the Enlightenment rejection of the Bible, and especially in David Hume's dismissal of miracles. Hume argued that unless universals in religion could be ascertained, no religious truth claims can reasonably be verified. Since Hume's time, anthropologists have identified several significant universals in religion, notably burial in red ochre, serpent veneration, and water shrines.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) also contributed to a dismissal of the Hebrew Scriptures as "a collection of mere statutory laws upon which was established a political organization." In his Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone Kant argued for a "pure moral religion" based on duty as "the euthanasia of Judaism." He maintained that Judaism was later "interfused, by reason of moral doctrines gradually made public within it, with a religious faith - for this otherwise ignorant people had been able to receive much foreign (Greek) wisdom." Kant's distortion of the facts is evident in the influence of ancient Egypt on Greek philosophers such as Pythagoras and Plato.
Although Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) was an oddity in his time, he perpetuated the Enlightenment disdain for the Hebrew Scriptures. He incorrectly portrayed the Hebrew Bible as derivative of what he regarded as the more ancient Vedas. His notion was repeated by Friedrich Maximilian Müeller (1823-1900) who wrote, "In the Rig-Veda we shall have before us more real antiquity than in all the inscriptions of Egypt or Ninevah....the Veda is the oldest book in existence...."
Today it is recognized that the oldest layer of the Vedas reflects the Horite religion which took root in Southern India's Harappa culture. Har-appa is a Dravidian word that means "Horus is Father". The words Kusha, Rama, Hari and the description of Krishna (Christ) as the "Ancient Man" are all found in earlier Hebrew and Aramaic texts.
Schopenhauer also said, "Monotheistic religions alone furnish the spectacle of religious wars, religious persecutions, heretical tribunals, that breaking of idols and destruction of images of the gods, that razing of Indian temples and Egyptian colossi, which had looked on the sun 3,000 years: just because a jealous god had said, 'Thou shalt make no graven image.'"
Again Schopenhauer was mistaken. It was the Roman emperor Augustus who desecrated the most revered of all the ancient sacred places. In 14 BC, he had the sacred pillars of Heliopolis (Biblical On) removed to Alexandria to grace the grounds of the Caesareum.
It is also evident that polytheistic Hinduism has contributed its share of religious violence and persecutions.
These writers dismissed the Hebrew Scriptures as irrational superstition and their assessment, though false, has been accepted uncritically by many today. Even to refer to the Bible in reference to homosexuality is to risk attack from gay activists. Some claim such references as "hate speech" and thereby effectively block a way of inquiry that has proven to be empirically valid (See Biblical Anthropology). It is no surprise that the Bible does not factor significantly in the contemporary debate over homosexuality.
Beyond Sodom and Gomorrah
When the Bible is referenced in conversation about homosexuality, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is usually cited. Some argue that the destruction of the cities was an act of divine punishment on those who practiced homosex. Others argue that the sin of Sodom was not homosex, but a lack of hospitality. Both sides miss the point. These Canaanite cities represent a religion quite foreign to that of Abraham's Horite people and it is Abraham's people who tell the story.
Their repudiation of homosex proceeds logically from their doctrine of creation. God created humanity in two sexes that the human race might be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. All non-procreative acts are viewed as immoral in this context. This includes onanism, homosex and refusal to fulfill the levirate marriage law (Deut. 25:5-10). Such acts frustrate God's purpose and go against the divine order in creation.
The levir's duty was to produce an heir for his deceased brother by his brother's widow. This practice insured that none of the priestly divisions would cease to exist. This was important to God's purpose since Jesus would be born of these priestly lines. The Virgin Mary's father was a priest who married a daughter of a priest, following the Horite marriage and ascendancy pattern.
The spilling of semen (onanism) is still regarded as an unrighteous deed among Afro-Arabians and most tribal peoples. The seed that should fall to the earth is the seed of plants, which spring forth from the earth. The seed of man should fall on his own type (the womb), from which man comes forth. This is the ancient wisdom which observed patterns in nature.
From the earliest days, Christians have upheld the Biblical teaching on non-procreative acts. Clement of Alexandria wrote, “Because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted” (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2 A.D. 191).
The Pew Research Center's 2007 Global Attitudes Survey found that "people in Africa and the Middle East strongly object to societal acceptance of homosexuality." It should not come as a surprise that societies that value the traditions of their ancestors resist acceptance of homosexuality while societies influenced by the Enlightenment, i.e., Western Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, accept and even advocate for gay rights.
Blue shades represent areas where homosex is most accepted. There are groups within the blue areas which do not accept homosex. The Micmac (Ainu) of northeast Canada and the Aborigines of Australia are examples.
The Horites and sexual purity
The moral law which is associated with Moses developed out of an early moral law associated with Menes who united the peoples of the Nile. Menes is shown as the first in the procession of ancient lawgivers in the South Wall Frieze of the United States Supreme Court. His was called the Law of Tehut. Menes (c. 3200 BC) and the kings after him bore Horus names. They were Horite ruler-priests whose wisdom and skill was still remembered in the times of the Egyptian historian Manetho (3rd century BC) and the Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (1st century BC).
The most ancient moral codes have many features in common. They appeal to the authority of the deity who was recognized by the ruler and they view the ruler as the deity's earthly representative. Another common feature is concern for purity among the priestly caste as they were regarded as the mediators between the deity and the ruler and his people. Often the rulers themselves were priests, but when it came to ritual purity, especially to cleanse from blood guilt, ruler-priests turned to other priests for purification of absolution rituals.
Ancient moral codes have a religious quality because religion and government were never separate in the ancient world. Among ancient peoples religious laws governed every aspect of the community’s life. Taboo is an aspect of ancient law that regularizes a community’s recognition of boundaries and supernatural power. In ancient Egypt none were permitted to touch the ruler except his queen who was usually his half-sister or his cousin. Among the ancient Polynesians, the high chief’s “mana” was such that people even avoided having his shadow fall on them. Taboo extended to objects, persons, words, and even numbers. Those who broke a taboo were punished or shamed by community.
An example of a taboo among the ancient Israelites was boiling a kid in its mother’s milk (Exodus 23:19; 34:26; Deuteronomy. 14:21). This was taboo because it blurred the boundary between life-giving and life-taking. This same boundary applied to blood. The blood shed in hunting, war and animal sacrifice could not be confused with or even physically near the blood shed by women in their monthly cycle or in birthing. The two bloods represent the binary oppositions of life-taking and life-giving. To blur the distinction between them was a serious matter as this boundary was established by the Creator.
Moses and the Horites
Moses was a Horite and the Mosaic law reflects the Horite caste's emphasis on ritual purity. The Horites (Ha-biru/O-piru) were expected to keep themselves from all impurity as the taint of impurity would render their work as intercessors and mediators ineffective. The Horites served as river shrine and temple attendants. They interceded for others and offered sacrifice. Both Abraham and righteous Job offered sacrifices and interceded for others.
There is a linguistic connection between Hr and TR. The Horite priest shaved his body before his term of service. The shaved priest was called Korah. Kor/Korah and Tor/Torah are both related to blood sacrifice and the Horite concept of purity. The Hebrew root thr = to be pure, corresponds to the Hausa/Hahm toro = clean, and to the Tamil tiru = holy. All are related to the proto-Dravidian tor = blood. The Horite priest was to be purified before entering the temple. The purification ritual involved shaving their heads and bodies. Moses had two brothers who were priests: Aaron (Harun) and Korah.
Horite priests were known for their purity and devotion to the High God whose emblem was the Sun. Plutarch wrote that the “priests of the Sun at Heliopolis never carry wine into their temples, for they regard it as indecent for those who are devoted to the service of any god to indulge in the drinking of wine whilst they are under the immediate inspection of their Lord and King. The priests of the other deities are not so scrupulous in this respect, for they use it, though sparingly.”
The oldest tomb associated with the Horite priestly caste was found in Egypt. The tomb belongs to a priest named Rudj-Ka (or Rwd-Ka) and is dated to the 5th Dynasty - between 2465 and 2323 BC. The 4400-year-old tomb is located south of the cemetery of the pyramid builders at Giza. This corresponds to the time of Noah's son Ham (2438-2363) and Noah's grandson Kush (2417-2342). For other correlations between Genesis and history see A Scientific Timeline of Genesis.
The Horite priests were a high ranked caste in ancient Egypt. Among the ancient Egyptians homosex was regarded as shameful. To be anally penetrated was looked upon as humiliating, and the only archaeological evidence of homosex in ancient Egypt is a painting on the interior wall of a remote cave.
The Book of the Dead, from approx. 1650-1550 BC, tells of how the one who wishes to enter the afterlife must confess before Ra/Horus and the 42 deified rulers (Horim or Houris) that "I have committed no acts of impurity nor have I had sexual intercourse with a man." [The Book of the Dead, chapter 125, by Richard Hooker.
There is textual evidence that homosexual rape was practiced in the ancient Near East against defeated warriors. This supports the view that homosex was regarded as a humiliating act. St Paul states that homosex is "contrary to nature" (Rom 1:26), that is, it violates the binary order of creation whereby God makes known His eternal power and divine nature (Rom 1:20).
An argument from silence?
A fallacy circulating these days is that no Near Eastern texts have been found that condemn homosexuality. This again points to the Enlightenment rejection of the Hebrew Scriptures which are themselves representative of Near Eastern and Afro-Arabian texts and which clearly are not silent on homosex. Both homosex and onanism bring death to their practitioners and the death is not from natural causes, but ascribed to God as an act of punishment (Gen. 19; Gen. 38:7-10).
Further, the Assyrians prohibited homosex during the time of Tukulti-apil-Eser, also known as Pileser I (1115–1077 B.C). However this prohibition and the prescribed punishment of castration can be traced back to the 15th century B.C. The Hebrew (Ha-biru/O-piru) punishment for homosex was far more severe. Leviticus 20:13 states, "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."
From the Old Babylonian period this image (left) was found depicting homosex in what appears to be a tavern or a place of orgy. The passive partner is seen drinking from a fountain. (Ch. Ziegler, ADFU 6 (1962), plate 10, Fig. 168 and p. 55. Whether the passive partners were castrated males is uncertain. In the 2nd century A.D. the Roman satirist Apuleius refers to Ishtar's castrated devotees as galli. In the 4th century A.D. Eusebius mentions effeminate priests attached to the moon goddess in Harran. They were said to perform homosex on Mount Lebanon.
|Worship of the moon god was criticized by the Biblical prophets. For the Horites, who were famous sky watchers, the eclipse of the moon was less significant than the eclipse of the sun because in their binary worldview the sun was regarded as superior to the moon. For this reason, it was shameful to worship the moon.|
The sun and the moon were gendered in Horite thinking, but the two were not seen as equals. As with all the binary sets found in the Bible, one entity in the set is regarded as superior to the other. This distinguishes the Biblical worldview from the dualism of the East. The sun was associated with the masculine because solar rays inseminate the earth over which the sun has dominion. The moon was associated with the feminine because it is the sun's counterpart, reflects the sun's light, and because it influences the woman's monthly cycle. This is why the male rulers of ancient Egypt appeared with darkened skin from sun exposure while their queens appeared with whitened skin, symbolic of the moon.
Apart from the adoption of the 12 month lunar cycle, the Horites recognized the moon as the binary opposite of the sun, and regarded worship of the lesser entity as idolatry. This is why worship of a moon-goddess finds no resonance in the Hebrew Bible.
Even were it true that no ancient Near Eastern texts condemn homosex, the argument from silence is not conclusive. We might as well note that no ancient Near Eastern or Afro-Arabian texts pose homosex as good.
Related reading: Plato's Debt to Ancient Egypt; Ancient Moral Codes; Is Opposition to Homosexual Activity "Irrational"? by Thomas Storck; Binary Distinctions and Kenosis; Levi-Strauss and Derrida on Binary Distinctions; Ritual Sex and Ancient Egyptian Priests; Abraham and Job: Horite Rulers; Alice C. Linsley's Research on Genesis; Genesis and African Bishops
If it weren't for the Enlightenment, we wouldn't have democracy, freedom of speech and the press, religious toleration, or civil rights of any kind. We would be living in absolutist monarchies with no freedoms, probably still working as serfs or as slaves to the wealthy elite. The Enlightenment has done far more good than harm.
Forgive me, but I am of a mind to challenge what you wrote, even though it is a key element of American civil mythology (I myself thought the same for a long time, based on my public school education).
The Enlightenment was not the unqualified good that we are indoctrinated to believe it to have been. It shifted the locus of values and source of "light" from Divine revelation to human reason (which is why it helped foster religious toleration -- religious doctrine didn't matter in comparison with what "I" think). Sadly, it took such a high view of mankind (or at least of the intellectual elite of mankind) that it failed to adequately reckon with the unreasonableness of so many people. Consequently, it resulted not only in various freedoms, but also the Terror of Madame Guillotine in the aftermath of the French Revolution, all in the name of "Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood."
The Enlightenment did not give us democracy - it gave us a republic, which is a very different thing. Like in all republics, this means that wealth and public image determine who actually rules us. We do elect them; but there are all too often pragmatic, if inarticulate, aristocratic and elitist criteria in play, even if they are not intrinsically hereditary (though we all know that there are political dynasties in America).
True, we are more free to criticize the government openly (most of the time), but it is questionable how effective our criticism really is. Our press is free to be critical. But is it really free enough of political influence, or control by the economic elite, to actually render an honest, disinterested critique? I am no longer so sure as I once was.
It is interesting to reflect that the American Revolution, for all its popular rhetoric about King George III being a "tyrant," was actually a revolution against a parliamentary government (headed by a King who had far less direct power than the American President has) that wanted the colonists to pay their fair share towards the cost of the expensive war England had just fought to protect them from the French and their Native American allies. It was just better propaganda to focus hostility on the King -- after all, it would not have sounded nearly so good to say you were rebelling against an elected legislative body (albeit one that didn't include people you had elected - a legitimate criticism, to be sure).
The Enlightenment did not end slavery. The big slave holders were deeply imbued with the values of the Enlightenment (which purported to be a hearkening back to Greek antiquity, despite the fact that Aristotle said monarchy was the best form of government). It was deeply Christian persons such as William Wilberforce (an Anglican Evangelical) in Monarchist England who led the campaign against enslavement of human beings (and in his case, without a bloody Civil War).
The Autocratic Russian Emperor Alexander II ended serfdom, before slavery was abolished in the US. He eventually paid the same price as Abraham Lincoln. Indentured servitude (i.e. temporary slavery) remained legal in the US long after permanent slavery was abolished (replaced with a very unenlightened failure to deal adequately with the transition of so many persons from slavery to freedom, bringing consequences with which we must still struggle).
Worth thinking outside the box, I would say.
The Enlightenment gave birth to Scientism which blocks the way of inquiry by insisting that Science alone verifies truth.
Read this: http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/the-folly-of-scientism
Fr. Theodore, you are certainly the first person I have ever heard suggest that the U.S. was wrong to start the American Revolution and might be better off today as a British colony.
Did the Enlightenment make public thinking more secular? Yes. But it also enabled us to end barbaric practices, including torture, unjust executions, and indeed slavery (though many abolitionists were religious, many were also Enlightenment humanists as well).
I would far prefer a press that was influenced by politics and economics than a press censored and shaped by religious doctrine. I do not think it is or should be a government's duty to enforce religious beliefs a la Iran or Afghanistan.
The reason countries like Iran continue to practice such barbaric things——public hanging of homosexuals, stoning and murder of women who have premarital sex, the death penalty for any Muslim who converts to Christianity——is because they never had an Enlightenment. Christians practiced those things too, long ago. Reason and tolerance have made great progress.
I frankly find it troubling to hear that you feel society was a better place (for women, for blacks, for Catholics, for Jews) three hundred years ago. Gay marriage is far preferable to a world where husbands could beat their wives with impunity, or serfs were tied to the land.
The Enlightenment emphasis on reason and Natural Rights is commendable. However, many Enlightenment writers were not using reason in their dismissal of the Hebrew Scriptures. They were in fact blocking inquiry out of a prejudiced view of Jews, Judaism, Christians, Christianity and the Bible.
Sandy S, where did Fr. Theodore write that "the U.S. was wrong to start the American Revolution and might be better off today as a British colony"? And where did he write, "Society was a better place (for women, for blacks, for Catholics, for Jews) three hundred years ago"? I've read and re-read his comment above, and I think you are jumping to conclusions.
Fr. Theodore makes excellent points and unfortunately has words put in his mouth by Sandy S. There is indeed pre-Enlightenment European history in which there were no serfs, lords, torture, etc. These Medieval trappings were largely brought into its culture by invasions of barbaric Franks and Normans, whose lineage spawned such events as the Trans Atlantic Slave Trade (which started with poor white Europeans, by the way), the Inquisition, and the Western World Wars.
Sandy S., how did the Native Americans benefit from the Enlightenment? How did they benefit from the American Revolution? Indeed, after the North defeated the South in the War Between the States, the new Union flag travelled West and initiated a merciless massacre against the Aborginal peoples of the continent. What part did Enlightenment thinking play there? See, I could put words into your mouth and say that since you love the Enlightenment, then you hate Native Americans, but that wouldn't be fair, would it?
No, the Enlightenment did not prevent all the horrible acts of Western civilization post-1770. But we have the Enlightenment to thank for the reason we repent our treatment of the slaves and the Native Americans. The Enlightenment allowed people, eventually, to see humanity transcending race and religion, and to treat people who are different with respect and compassion.
It was during (and after) the Age of Enlightenment that the British crown colonized India, sometimes with brutal methods. Nevertheless, Enlightenment ideals were what gave the Indian people the means to fight for their freedom and to seek self-government from the British; they also allowed, in turn, the British to see their past wrongs and relinquish control.
We are still experiencing the lessons of the Enlightenment every day, and will continue to learn from them in the future. I just found it strange how people were bashing it, for I had never read such criticism before.
Nobody is bashing the Enlightenment. The article questions the irrational assumptions of some Enlightenment thinkers. As Charles Sanders Peirce points out there are three rules in epistemology: 1) in order to learn you must desire to learn; 2) do not be satisfied with what you already think/your assumptions; and 3) do not block the way of inquiry.
The Sodom story has a parallel at the end of Judges where we are told that some among the tribe of Benjamin in the city of Giva were practicing homosex and attempted to rape a Horite priest who was passing through there. Instead they sexually assaulted his concubine who died. The priest proclaimed that never had such a thing been heard of among the Horites. He cut his concubine's body in pieces and used this to rally other Horite settlements to attack Benjamin. What's interesting about this is what happens latter. The elders insist that Samuel give them as king. This is said to be a rejection of God as King, but the Lord tells Samuel to go along with their wishes. They want Saul who is from Giva. Saul cuts up an ox and sends the pieces to the tribes with this threat - if you don't support me in my war efforts, this will be done to your cattle.
Jason, you ascribe serfs, lords, torture etc to Medieval developments. Have you forgotten that the Roman Empire before that was based on slavery and dominated by the Senatorial aristocracy? And the US president most imbued by the Enlightenment, Jefferson, was keen on good relations with Native Americans. It was the unenlightened Jackson who reversed this policy.
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