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Old 12-08-2004, 03:06 PM   #1
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Was the Apostle Paul Gay?????

[Q]With the softening of that homophobic stance we might consider the hypothesis that Paul may have been a gay male. We might test that theory by assuming it for a moment as we read Paul. When I did this for the first time, I was startled to see how much of Paul was unlocked and how deeply I could understand the power of the gospel that literally saved Paul's life.
When I suggest the possibility that Paul was a homosexual person, I do not mean to be salacious or titillating or even to suggest something that many would consider scandalous. I see no evidence to suggest that Paul ever acted out his sexual desires and passions. He lived in an age and among a people that cloaked the way he would have viewed this reality with layer after layer of condemnation. But for a moment assume the possibility that this theory is correct and look with me again at the writings of Paul and, more important, at the meaning of Christ, resurrection, and grace in the life of this foundational Christian.

Paul felt tremendous guilt and shame, which produced in him self-loathing. The presence of homosexuality would have created this response among Jewish people in that period of history. Nothing else, in my opinion, could account for Paul's self-judging rhetoric, his negative feeling toward his own body, and his sense of being controlled by something he had no power to change. The war that went on between what he desired with his mind and what he desired with his body, his drivenness to a legalistic religion of control, his fear when that system was threatened, his attitude toward women, his refusal to seek marriage .as an outlet for his passion-nothing else accounts for this data as well as the possibility that Paul was a gay male.

Paul's religious tradition would clearly regard gay males as aberrant, distorted, evil, and depraved. When discovered, gay males were quite often executed. The Law stated: "You shall not lie with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination" (Lev. 18:22). Do not defile yourself by these things, the Torah continued, for God will cast out those who defile themselves. God will punish, promised the Law, and the land will vomit out those who are thus defiled (Lev. 18:24ff). To do these things is to be cut off from the people of Israel (Lev. 18:29). Later in the Torah death is called for as the penalty for homosexuality. "If a man lies with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death" (Lev. 20:13).

Paul was a student of the Law. If homosexuality was his condition, he knew well that by that Law he stood condemned. His body was a body in which death reigned. He lived under that death sentence. What Paul knew himself to be, the people to whom he belonged and the Law to which he adhered called abominable, and Paul felt it to be beyond redemption. Is it not possible, even probable, that this was the inner source of his deep self-negativity, his inner turmoil, his self-rejection, his superhuman zeal for a perfection he could never achieve? Could this also be his thorn in the flesh, about which he wrote so plaintively? With this possibility in mind, listen once more to Paul's words: "And to help me keep from being too elated by the abundance of revelation, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to harass me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I sought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness' " (2 Cor. 12:7-9).
On another and perhaps earlier occasion, Paul had written, "You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first; and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus" (Gal. 4:13). The word angel can also be translated messenger. Paul is the possessor of a condition that he believes to be incurable. It is a condition for which people might scorn or despise him. I have heard and read of commentators who suggested that this physical condition was some kind of chronic eye problem. This is based, I suspect, on Paul's words to the Galatians that they would have "plucked out their eyes and given them" to Paul (Gal. 4:15). But chronic eye problems do not normally bring scorn or the activity of despairing, and through the eye, which Paul called "the window of the body," life and beauty as well as death and pain enter the human experience. Paul, in these words to the Galatians, told them that he had now "become as they are," one in whom "Christ has been formed," and assured them that they "did him no wrong" (Gal. 4:12, 19). That refers to an inner healing not an external healing.

Others have suggested that epilepsy was the condition from which he was not free. Epilepsy was thought of as demon possession, but it was a periodic sense of being possessed by an alien spirit, not a constant malady. Also, in the biblical narrative the epileptic elicited a sense of pity, or at times fear, but seldom did it elicit despising or loathing. Epilepsy does not appear to me to account for the intensity of the feelings that Paul expressed. The realization that he was a homosexual male does. It is a hypothesis that makes sense of the data and accounts for the tone, the fear, the passion, and the behavior.

If this hypothesis is correct, it also illumines in powerful ways Paul's experience of conversion, his understanding of Jesus, his view of resurrection, and his move toward universalism. Furthermore, it provides us with a means to step into Christ as Paul did and to see the Christ experience outside the context of limited words and in the context of a universal human experience. It thus becomes for us a point of entry into a universal spirituality inaugurated by Christ that may endure into the unlimited future in a way that the narrow and brittle religious forms from our Christian past no longer seem capable of doing. [/Q]

If the Hypothesis is correct and Paul is an Ex-Gay does this change your view of the writings that are attributed to Paul in the New Testament?

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/142/story_14299_1.htm
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Old 12-08-2004, 03:21 PM   #2
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Interesting theory.
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Old 12-08-2004, 03:35 PM   #3
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Weird, we just discussed this in class! My professor didn't give much weight to the gay theory, or at least he didn't give the impression that he did. (And he's all about sex in the Bible, LOL)

It's one of many theories. There's no question that Paul was nervous and uncomfortable about women and sex, and no one knows why. There's speculation he had a bad marriage of his own, and was negative on the whole subject. Another theory is that he had a physical deformity of some kind that made him unattractive to women.

I'm not a huge fan of Pauline Christianity anyway (though his passages on love are some of the most beautiful pieces ever written). Whatever his sexual orientation, it wouldn't change his writings for me.
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Old 12-08-2004, 03:45 PM   #4
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Statistically, chances are very good that at least one of the apostles was gay, so I think it's entirely possible.
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Old 12-08-2004, 03:51 PM   #5
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This is very interesting. I admit it's never occurred to me but I'll definitely think about it. Where did all of that guilt come from? It's interesting to speculate. Paul had alot of guilt, no question, and if he was gay, that might be the source of the guilt. It came from somewhere. I've always considered it a likely product of general self-consciousness, obviously not knowing the particulars.
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Old 12-08-2004, 04:45 PM   #6
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No.
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Old 12-08-2004, 04:47 PM   #7
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That was informative. I am sure the Bishop who wrote this hypothesis would laugh too.
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Old 12-08-2004, 04:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by thacraic
No.
Because you don't want him to be, or that God couldn't possibly use someone who was gay, or did you actually know Paul?
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Old 12-08-2004, 05:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by thacraic
No.
If I say yes, does that even out to a maybe?
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Old 12-08-2004, 05:39 PM   #10
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Who cares?
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Old 12-08-2004, 05:41 PM   #11
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Who cares?
I do.....it changes the way I view his writings and it brings an interesting perspective.
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Old 12-08-2004, 05:45 PM   #12
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Homophobia/ against homosexuality = you're a closet case homosexual. Right. I mean this is a fact.
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Old 12-08-2004, 05:46 PM   #13
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I stand corrected, but then again perhaps I was asking a legitimate question, pick the form that suits best.
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Old 12-08-2004, 05:48 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Flying FuManchu
Homophobia/ against homosexuality = you're a closet case homosexual. Right. I mean this is a fact.
That's why it's called a theory.
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Old 12-08-2004, 05:49 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
Who cares?
It makes for some interesting thoughts, that's for sure. As a philosophy minor I like this topic.
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