If It Ever Was (Poem)


If it mattered it would be unfair

To unveil the winds and tie what’s there

Grasping what’s disguised as air

Lamenting and running bare

 

If there was worth it could be unjust

Erect a wall in swamps of dust

But loneliness a grasp of must

And games to spin yet not to cusp

 

If there was truth it could be wrong

In silence sing a distant song

Confused to where and why belong

And never find a truthful bond

 

If it was so it might be harsh

A glimpse of hope to drown and parch

Where beauty reigned reveal the farce

Resign the dance and halt the march

 

If it was true I might just dare

To run with gold but show no care

And spin a top a dark world’s stare

Yet burn with all that once was fair

 

Juan Castillo Jr.

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What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality: Sodom and Gomorrah


Before I begin this post, I want to inform you that my intent is NOT to convince you of anything (say what?), yes that’s right.  I am not under some delusion as to my literary prowess’ ability to convince anyone of anything.  Nevertheless, what I do hope happens is that genuine curiosity takes hold.  I pray that this information gives you a spring board from which you, the concerned reader, will do further research. 

There is a reason why scripture instructs us to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” – 2 Tim 2:15. And as I write this I finally have no shame of who I am, for I have divided and been dividing God’s word on this issue and finally see the truth.  So let’s begin, because I am completely excited to share with you truth.  A truth that I hope will set you free to love yourself, and to love others who long for such affection.

Now there are 7 places in scripture that refer to homosexual acts

  • 2 refer to rape (Genesis 19:1-11Judges 19:22)
  • 1 refers to prostitution and pederasty (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
  • 4 are nonspecific (Leviticus 18:21-22Leviticus 20:13Romans 1:26-271 Timothy 1:8-10)

I will begin by sharing some truths concerning these passages and this week I’ll start in Genesis 19 and to some extent, judges 19:22.

GENESIS 19:1-11

In Genesis we find an interesting story to say the least (Genesis 19:1-11).  You can read this on your own, but I will give you a paraphrase of the story.  Lot, Abraham’s nephew is staying in sodom when he is visited by angels whom Lot treats as guests. However, men from the city come to Lots house, demanding that he give over the guests so that they (the men in Sodom) may “know” or have sex with them.  Lot refuses to hand the angels over because they are his guests.  

A similar story can be found in judges 19:16-30.  

Some claim that this is a clear representation of the homosexual sin of Sodom. And to be fair, the men of the town did want to have sex with the male guests.  A cursory reading could give you the impression that this story is truly about homosexuality and that the outcome of Sodom was a direct result of such action.  However, most scholars agree that the issue in this story is not homosexuality but rather that hospitality and justice were not being practiced. The blatant proof of this is found in Ezekiel 16:49 where it states “Now this is the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed, and unconcerned, they did not help the poor and needy.  They were haughty and did detestable things before me.  Therefore I did away with them as you have seen.” – Ez 16:49.  It’s important to highlight that nowhere in this passage is the sin of homosexuality mentioned or even alluded to.  Rather; arrogance, gluttony (overfed), apathy (unconcerned), discrimination against the poor and needy, pride (which we all know how much God hates) and detestable things.  If homosexuality was the real issue here, it would have been stated plainly.  But as it stands, it’s no where to be found in the passage that clearly outlines why God destroyed Sodom.

But wait, in Jude 1:7 we read “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion…” Indeed we do read this.  However, in spite of the fact that some will argue that this is a clear reference to homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorrah, scholars contest this claim. This verse talks about sexual perversion as a whole and in biblical times, there were many forms of sexual perversions.  It’s irresponsible to tack on homosexuality to a verse that does not specifically refer to it.  And to be clear, rape (which is what would have transpired in Sodom if the town men would have gotten a hold of the angels) is just as perverse and immoral (if not more) as sex outside of marriage, or prostitution, or temple sex worship, etc.  

So what exactly is going on?

When you look at the context of the jewish custom of hospitality you get a better account as to what exactly is going on in this Genesis story. 

In ancient Israel, hospitality was a moral institution which grew out of the harsh desert and nomadic existence led by the people of Israel. It’s difficult for us to picture this but the Jews took hospitality seriously…very seriously.  Biblical law specifically sanctified hospitality toward the stranger “for you were strangers in a strange land” (Lev. 19:34 and see Ex. 12:49), moreover, foreign travelers, although not protected by the law (Deut. 15:3; 23:21), could count on the Jewish custom of hospitality.  

We see this hospitality taking place in many places throughout the old testament, for example: Abraham and the three men of Mamre, (Gen 18). In Gen. 24:28-32 we see Laban eager to welcome Abraham’s servant while Rebekah tended the camels. In Judges 13:15, Manoah di not allow the angel to depart before partaking in hospitably.  But perhaps the most extreme case of this hospitality is found judges 19:16-30 where we find the old man of Gibeah, prepared to sacrifice the honor of his daughters in order to protect his guests (who were to him complete strangers).  Does the account of judges 19:16-30 sound familiar?  It should, because it’s the same scenario happening in Genesis 19:1-11.  Which points to the fact that there is more going on in this Genesis account than just male to male sexual actions.  The issue in Genesis 19 is one of injustice, inhospitably, rape, and a particular outrageous disrespectful affront not only to Lot’s guests but also to his culture and his beliefs.  

I hope this gives you something to chew on. Again, feel free to disagree or agree, but ultimately search for yourselves.  And tune in next week for a discussion on 1 corinthians 6:9-10.

 

   

What the Bible REALLY says about homosexuality (and so it begins)


According to a study conducted by the Williams Institute of Law at UCLA, 3.5% of the adult population in the United States is comprised of Lesbian, gay, or bisexual people. In other words, about 9 million Americans identify as LGBT. 

Nevertheless, within the nucleus of these people there is a major discord when it comes to religion.  In fact, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey, 48% of LGBT members surveyed stated that they had no religion (this is more than double the percentage of the general public that says the same thing). 

On the flip side, 51% of those surveyed stated that they did have religion with 17% claiming religion to be “very important” in their lives. This would be encouraging news for the exception that a third of those who said they were religious also claimed that there was “a conflict between their religious beliefs and their sexual orientation or gender identity.” Of course, this is really not all that surprising since the majority of the general public (74 % white evangelical protestants and 55 % of all U.S. adults with a religious affiliation) believe that “homosexuality conflicts with their religious beliefs”.

So why is this important? 

Why does this matter? 

For someone who is straight, this may not seem all that important. It’s difficult to pay attention to the sinful or otherwise strange behavior of a group of people who seem to only identify themselves via their sexual orientation.  For someone who is straight, it may seem like a trivial thing for a group of people to be demonized, ostracized, or otherwise debased in the face of humanity while they stubbornly hold on to their erroneous view of a sexually charged lifestyle.

But for those who grow up  without a choice in the matter it’s a completely different story.  Those who in the early years of their lives find themselves attracted to the same sex will face discriminations, abuse, alienation, shame, and ridicule for the rest of their lives.  Sadly, this is a fate that will not change for them as readily as a simple action of “repentance” or “sanctification”.  No, these people are born into something they will forever struggle with (even those who claim to be “ex-gays”).  For this group of people, a life of pain, stress, unfulfillment, and utter confusion is what awaits them. A life, that lead many to the ultimate cry: Self extermination. In fact, numerous studies show that the suicide rate amongst LGBT members is considerably higher when compared to the rest of the population.  According to the U.S. government report entitled “Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Youth Suicide”  found that LGBT youths are four times more likely to attempt suicide. 

It’s obvious that a large group of people are hurting and hurting badly. Nevertheless, the group that claims to have the answer, the hope, the way, or whatever else religious people claim to have, are the very ones that are causing the hurt to begin with. I know because I have been both the victim and the victimizer in this scenario.  For 18 years I have had a “conflict of religion” with homosexuality.  A struggle with something that I had been aware of since the age of 7.  I came to know bible versus and prayers designed to help me deal with my struggle and before I even fully realized, I had associated something I could not change with something God wanted to change. Within my 18 years of faith so far I have been zealous for God and angry at God; loving life and, sadly, hating life (to the point where I too considered ending it).  

But why?

This is a question i’ve asked myself many times. Why?  Why me? What did I do? I didn’t ask for this, and quite frankly who would? But at the end of the day, here I am.  I have not changed, and as I grow older the foolishness of attempting such change is overwhelmingly obvious, especially after this year.  

And so, here I am. It’s time to get a few things straight with you people out there who keep claiming that homosexuality is a sin. Over the course of these few posts, I will share with you what has changed in the way I see homosexuality in the bible and why it’s so crucial for me to share it with you.  

This isn’t about justifying my “sinful” lifestyle (though I know some of you will think so). This is about giving hope to those who have none.  This is about revealing beauty where the church only sees death.  This is about the truth setting you free, as opposed to binding you with the yolk of religiosity.

Won’t you come and take this journey with me?  I want you to know what I know, and I want you to share it with those who are seeking God but feel as if God hates them. He doesn’t.  

So tune in next week, as I start the discussion of “What does the Bible REALLY say about homosexuality”.