Sunday, September 18, 2011

Gays won't inherit the kingdom? Was something lost in translation

Theogeek seem to think that something was indeed lost in translation in the traditional reading of this passage in  I Corinthians.

54 comments:

BenYachov said...

Jewish Tradition strongly and universally condemns anal sex between men & the wasting of seed.

I can't see how it can refer to anything else but homosexuality.

Crude said...

Isn't the idea of a "homosexual" in that sense a really recent development? (Meaning treating a person who engages in these acts as some kind of distinct type of person, rather than 'someone who engaged in this action'.) It seems like what would be spoken about at most would be 'people who engage in these particular acts' - and that "heterosexuals" could engage in such acts too.

Brenda said...

BenYachov said
"I can't see how it can refer to anything else but homosexuality."

Maybe you should have, you know, actually read the linked article.

Anonymous said...

'I can't see how it can refer to anything else but homosexuality'

And maybe you should have, you know, actually read the linked article.

Anonymous said...

It would interesting to see what the early versions of the NT (such as Syriac, Coptic and early Latin) made of these words presumably written while Koine Greek was still around.The early church fathers (Greek,Latin,Syriac)perhaps also had their say.

BenYachov said...

Brenda,

What in my short sentence is inconsistent with the article in question?

B. Prokop said...

This obsession with homosexuality by some church members has always baffled me. After all, for every verse in the Bible allegedly condemning homosexuality, there are at least ten that unquestionably condemn lending money at interest. Yet Christians everywhere blithely collect interest from their bank accounts each month without the slightest moral qualm, and we don't see the Westboro Baptist Church picketing the NYSE or Bank of America.

mattghg said...

At any rate, people have searched the bible from top to bottom to see what arsenokoites (man + bed) means in the 'bible' language and discovered a passage that uses 'man' and 'bed' in the same sentence in the bowels of Leviticus. Therefore it must be a reference to that, right?

This is an extremely tendentious way of putting it. First, there are two such passages (Lev 18:22 and 20:13). Second, the words aren't just 'in the same sentence', there are used together to describe what the 'detestable' thing is; in fact, in Lev 20 they are next to each other.

Because, of course, Paul would invent a word his Corinthian readers didn't know and expect them to search the bible from top to bottom to find the sentence that most closely matched it... not!

Gee, does the Apostle Paul show any signs of being steeped in the Torah? Might his use, in a list of sins including sexual sins, of a compound word made up of the description of a sin from the Torah indicate what the meaning of that compound word is? Does the fact that in 1 Tim 1:10 Paul includes 'arsenokoites' in a list of things condemned by 'the Law' (Torah) indicate where to go to look for the meaning of that word?

Anonymous said...

The ones that wear bum-less chaps probably won't.

Mike Darus said...

B. Prokop: It is not fair to say that homosexual behavior is an obsession. It gains focus by being a currently controversial topic.
Crude: You are correct. There should be distinctions made between homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior. The behavior is certainly proscribed by the Bible. The orientation is best understood in the Biblical terms of temptation, lust, and desires of the "flesh."
Matthg: You are right on target. The article attempts to analyze the etymology based only on non-biblical Greek usage. Paul's usage of Greek is heavily infuluenced by the Septuagint and his Jewish background. The article does not represent a balanced approach. It takes the position that there is both moral and immoral homosexual sexual behaviors. Both Jews and Christians of the time and up to the last 30 years would be flabergasted.

Brenda said...

BenYachov said...
"What in my short sentence is inconsistent with the article in question?"

This part.

"A meaning that explains a lot of the evidence (but not all) is "anal rape" or "having sex with someone in order to prove dominance over them" (bear in mind that in the ancient world this was a somewhat common practice for heterosexuals to engage in). In short, Greek usage provides no reason at all to think that the word means "homosexual". No study I have ever seen has concluded that the word meant "homosexual" in Greek."

Anyone familiar with primate behavior knows that one way primate males express dominance is the alpha male will mount the subordinate male to show him just who is boss.

It has nothing to do with sex. Rape never does.

Payton said...

Mike,

I don't think many Christians living before the 12th century AD would be flabbergasted at the notion of there being morally acceptable kinds of homosexual behavior. There is strong historical evidence, in fact, that the church did not oppose homosexuality, and actually sanctified homosexual unions up until this time. (Boswell, 1994) There were even gay saints, such as SS. Serge and Bacchus, and St. Aelred!

I think the main issue here is not whether Paul was aware of the wording of that passage in Leviticus (as he most likely was), but why on earth he would choose to convey his message to non-Hebrews by reference to a neologism taken from the Hebrew Bible. Why would Paul make up a new word, in reference to a Hebrew text (whose laws he argued did not apply to the gentiles he was talking to) while speaking to a Greek audience, even though there were many well-established and understood words in koine Greek to refer to homosexuality? Unless his aim was to indoctrinate Gentiles into the Law of the Jews, (an effort which he expressly condemns in Acts, I believe), I see no reason for him to refer to homosexuality in this way.

In light of this, it is unlikely that Paul's use of the word "arsenokoites" in 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians has anything to do with Leviticus. On the contrary, Justin Cannon's analysis of linguistic structural pairs in the verse in 1 Timothy would strongly suggest that Paul's condemnation of "...pornoi, arsenokoitai, andrapodistai" is a condemnation of different sins of prostitution. Pornoi (from the Greek word "pernemi", "to sell") indisputable refers to prostitutes, and andrapodistai translates as "man-stealers, or slave traders. The fact that the three words are lumped together in the same way at the end of this verse as heavily related words are just prior would suggest that they are related, as Cannon suggests. On this interpretation, pornoi refers to young male slave-prostitutes, arsenokoitai refers to the men who use such sex slaves, and andrapodistai refers to the slave traders.

At the very best, one might be able to prove that this passage refers to some kind of pederasty.

I have written about the topic of 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians and homosexuality (as well as Leviticus) at these links.

http://urbanphilosophy.net/religion/homosexuality-and-1-timothy-19-10/

http://urbanphilosophy.net/religion/homosexuality-and-leviticus/

Anonymous said...

There is strong historical evidence, in fact, that the church did not oppose homosexuality, and actually sanctified homosexual unions up until this time. (Boswell, 1994) There were even gay saints, such as SS. Serge and Bacchus, and St. Aelred!

Strong evidence, so long as strong evidence means "coming from a historian whose views on this matter are largely viewed as fantasy (Boswell) and who cherry picks history like crazy in the service of his agenda".

Acts of sodomy have been condemned for quite a long time by Christian and Jewish authorities for millenia. There is not "strong historical evidence" indicating otherwise - indeed, the historical evidence is firmly in the opposite direction. Like it or not.

B. Prokop said...

"Like it or not", says anonymous. And also, like it or not, on any list of the "Top Ten Activities to be Avoided, According to Scripture", homosexuality would have to be about number 82!!!

Why this obsession (and yes, Mike, it is an obsession), when there are far more pressing matters at hand?

Crude said...

Bob,

"Like it or not", says anonymous. And also, like it or not, on any list of the "Top Ten Activities to be Avoided, According to Scripture", homosexuality would have to be about number 82!!!

So you're agreeing it makes the list?

Why this obsession (and yes, Mike, it is an obsession), when there are far more pressing matters at hand?

I am against illicit bank practices AND I have some criticisms of certain sexual and sex culture behaviors AND I am pro-life AND I am in favor of reduced government AND I am against gun control AND I am in favor of changes to animal treatment in factory farms AND I am a big fan of indie games AND...

I know, it's amazing - I have an opinion about a variety of things. People can only have an opinion about one thing? Apparently I'm some kind of goddamn wizard.

And who here is obsessed? Name names, because you keep implying that people in this very thread are obsessed - I'd like to know who's making the cut and why. I'd also like to know if it's possible to be 'obsessed' with the homosexuality topic if a person themselves classifies themselves as a homosexual.

But I admit, I'm waiting for the logic pretzel where the people who mention their disapproval or their belief in the sinfulness of certain sexual acts are obsessed, but the people who join Gay Organizations and go to marches and make their sexual inclination into a full-blown case of identity are not obsessed.

Jason Pratt said...

As an exegetical argument, I don’t think I can agree with Payton's attempt.

1.) It relies on grouping three words together topically, on the ground that there are other topical groups nearby. But the other topical groups are always in pairs: the V1 and the V2; the W1 and the W2; the X1 and the X2; Y1 doers and Y2 doers; murderers (not part of a group set); the three words under contention; Z1ers and Z2ers; and any other thing opposing sound teaching etc.

From a structural argument, it would make more sense if the pair pornoi and arsenokoitai are a paired set like almost everything else, flanked by two single-set exceptions to the stylistic rule: "murderers" on one side and "man-stealers" on the other.


2.) "Man-stealers" has a much wider meaning than sex slave operator (though of course that happened, too). The argument that it's part of a topically limited three-set with the preceding two terms can only be as strong as the structural argument otherwise--which as shown above fits better with two-term sets. This is especially worth noting in that some of those two-term sets are not themselves necessarily closely related concepts yet are structured together with a conjunction.


3.) Payton's argument depends on the implausibility of Paul expecting his Christian audience to toe the line when it comes to the Jewish Law. Leaving aside whether Jews or Gentiles are primarily in view as his audience here, and even leaving aside (although I'd say this is important) the degree to which Paul expects the audience of this epistle to appreciate Jewish theology in other regards: the textual fact is that Paul introduces this list with the observation that the law is ideal if ever anyone is using it lawfully, being aware that the law is not laid down for the just but rather for... and here he starts the list.

So in fact he does expect his Christian readers (whoever they are or were) to follow Hebrew ethics generally speaking, for which he provides a sample listing of breaches of those ethics. No one could ever successfully argue that Christians as such are free (unlike non-Christians condemned by the law) to be murderers, man-stealers, malign, profane, insubordinate, beaters of father and mothers, liars, perjurers or any other thing opposing sound teachings!

But these things are clearly opposed in the Torah, which Paul is doubtless referring to (even if in a more generalized than detailed legalistic fashion). The two disputed terms, pornoi and arsenokoitai, must be part of that list condemned by the Jewish Law and practiced only by non-Christians.

Part 2 of 2 next...

Jason Pratt said...

Part 2 of 2:

4.) Payton's argument doesn't end quite in conjunction with the data. The term opposing sound teaching is not pederast (one who uses boys for sex) but pornoi: i.e. if this list is a typical format list of those who will not inherit the kingdom (which Payton seems to agree), the male prostitutes themselves are on that list. The "young male slave-prostitutes" as Payton elsewhere interprets them, so as to make a set with the kidnappers. But these would be the victims!--which of course is why Payton is willing to acknowledge (maybe) a teaching against pederasty here. The language doesn't fit an expected exoneration of the victims, as on this intepretation the victims are condemned along with the victimizers.

It is more likely that "pornoi" here is meant as a double-set with "arsenokoitai" to refer to a broadly stereotypical feminine/masculine pairing (similar to how "malakon" is used in conjunction with "arsenokoitai" elsewhere.) This also fits the double-set structure elsewhere in the list (some of which are artificially paired by overt grammatic conjunction.) The two outriding single examples would flank this set on either side.

It makes more sense if victim and victimizer are thus not in view. Certainly no one arguing that Paul is condemning a limited set of victimizing activities (instead of condemning willfully consensual activities more broadly) would want to arrive at a result where the victimized person is condemned along with the victimizer! (Nor are victims implied anywhere else in the list.)


If a limited subset of activities is intended, it must be something like condemnation of homosexual prostitution by the seller and the buyer of the act. But the term arsenokoitai matches Levitical references to such consensual activity more broadly; and Paul is (by the immediate textual evidence) affirming the general morality of the Torah by giving this list of countervailing examples.

The evidence points to Paul bringing those references forward as a compound word in a list of activities Christians ought to broadly avoid in respect to the morality represented by the Jewish Torah (even if Paul is not thus insisting on all the picky details of the Torah.)


(I don’t usually write on this topic, so I can say I’m not obsessed by it. I am however a little obsessed with interesting exegetical issues. {wry g} I appreciate Payton’s attempt, but I don’t think it adds up.)

JRP

BenYachov said...

@Brenda,

You did not answer my question. I asked what I said that was inconsistent you did not answer other than to cite the article and claim I what I said is inconsistent.

Consider you might be reading into my short sentence a meaning I did not explicitly convey.

B. Prokop said...

Crude,

I have to admit, I'm not really responding to anyone on this thread in particular, but rather to the social/political scene in general. I am forever amazed why the so-called "values issues" get so much air time, while far more important matters languish at the margins of debate. I will freely admit that I totally fail to understand how ANYONE could decide where his vote is going on the basis of a candidate's views on gay marriage or abortion, as a single issue.

My brother and his wife for instance have repeatedly told me they would vote against any candidate that opposed legalizing gay marriage, even if that person agreed with them on every single other issue. It's that important to them. As another example, a close friend of mine told me something similar: she said that unless a person was "pro-life", they would never get her vote, no matter how closely they agreed with her on everything else.

Amazing. I once, as a thought experiment, ranked the great controversies of our time in order of what I personally thought their real importance was, and none of the so-called values issues even made the list at all! (By the way, I pulled the number 82 in my last comment out of thin air.)

Crude said...

Bob,

I will freely admit that I totally fail to understand how ANYONE could decide where his vote is going on the basis of a candidate's views on gay marriage or abortion, as a single issue.

I don't think abortion and "gay marriage" are very comparable. But it sounds like your problem is with single issue voters. Or what, is single-issue voting okay if it's not a 'values' issue? And really, what issue issue doesn't have a value aspect to it anyway?

B. Prokop said...

You're right. I can't stand single issue voting. And this is from personal experience. I've never missed an election since 1972, and the one and only vote I've ever regretted to this day was cast on the basis of a single issue. I learned my lesson the hard way.

As for "values issues", I'm just borrowing the terminology that the media use to pidgeonhole issues that supposedly have a "moral" component to them. I know, it's incredibly sloppy nomenclature, but everyone pretty much knows what you mean when you use it.

Brenda said...

BenYachov said...
"You did not answer my question."

I thought it was obvious. You expressed disbelief that references to anal sex could have any other meaning than one of sexual orientation when the text gives a reference for anal sex being used as a means of social dominance and humiliation.

Human sexuality and gender roles are not features of the universe. They are culturally determined performances and are really quite fluid from culture to culture.

It is entirely possible to be opposed to rape, hetero or homo, without condemning gay or hetero sexuality.

BenYachov said...

Brenda FYI I don't believe either the Bible, Church Tradition or Rabbinic Tradition have a concept of "sexual orientation".

That is a modern category. By homosexuality I mean having sex with people who are the same gender as you. I don't care what butters your bread.

Next time ask me what do you mean instead of assuming.

Brenda said...

BenYachov said...
By homosexuality I mean having sex with people who are the same gender as you.

Rape is not a sex act, it is an act of violence.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTwugmG4hoA

Tim Keller on Homosexuality, salVation, and a few other things.

BenYachov said...

Brendra

>Rape is not a sex act, it is an act of violence.

Rape is not discussed in this text(the Bible & Tradition condemns it elsewhere).

QUOTE"neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor [a]effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers etc

The text then goes on to say

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 Food is for the [g]stomach and the [h]stomach is for food, but God will do away with both [i]of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” 17

Later it goes on to say

"Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 3 The husband must [a]fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband.END QUOTE

The context is clearly sexual immorality and general vice. No mention of crimes of violence in the immediate context like murder, rape or mayhem. None of the other sins mentioned are violent sins per say fornication, idolatry, adultery, stealing etc..

Thus the claim the Greek word translated homosexual means gay rapist is rather dubious.

So I cry bullshit.

BenYachov said...

The text right after it warns that sexual immorality and General vice will lead you to hell says:

"Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified."

I find it hard to believe repentant rapists of men would be allowed into the community. Rather crimes of violence would prompt such individuals be turned over to the authorities as Paul says "They don't weld the Sword in vain". Sure the Church would have given said individuals the oppertunity to repent but they would still need to be punished.

BenYachov said...

Further more Rabbinic Jewish Law(St. Paul was a Rabbi) regards the crime of two men having anal sex as two crimes taking place.

The active male partner violates Leviticus "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination".

and the passive male partner violates Deut 23:17 "None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute.(i.e. Sodomite)".

So from the perspective of Jewish Tradition the effeminate vs homosexual distinction makes more sense.

So I don't find it convincing this text is condemning gay rape. Though Jewish Tradition does condemn gay rape, rape in marriage and pedophila etc....

The text in Corinthians is a clear condemnation of sexual immorality and general vice but not capital crimes per say thought some acts of sexual immorality can in theory merit a death penalty(thought it's impossible to convict but I digress).

Crude said...

Rape is not a sex act, it is an act of violence.

What?

Come on. Yes, rape is a sex act. Call it a violent sex act if you want - I mean, obviously it is - but not a sex act at all?

Brenda said...

BenYachov said...
Rape is not discussed in this text

Try to keep up. It IS discussed in the referenced article which I have already quoted but will again since is seems difficult to understand:

"A meaning that explains a lot of the evidence (but not all) is "anal rape""

The word who's meaning is being speculated about is "arsenokoites". You may agree with his suggested interpretation or not but it is very clear that Theo Greek believes that acts of "having sex with someone in order to prove dominance over them" were common then.

"In short, Greek usage provides no reason at all to think that the word means "homosexual". No study I have ever seen has concluded that the word meant "homosexual" in Greek."

That is how arsenokoites can refer to something other than homosexuality.

Brenda said...

By the way:

"The text then goes on to say"

The text says no such thing. You're aware of course that nowhere have you actually given a QUOTE. What you have is a translation and just what the proper translation should be is the very matter being debated.

Crude said:
"Come on. Yes, rape is a sex act."

We humans are speech act performing free agents where X equals Y in context C. In a completely different context D, X can easily mean Z. So... X (coitus) = Y (making love) in context C (consent). OR X (ciotus) = Y (rape) in context D (no consent). Coitus is not sex, it is a purely physical act and is no more sexual than inserting a male electrical plug into a female outlet is "sex". But it is if you intend it to be sexual. Your intention in action transforms inserting a plug into an outlet into a sexual act if that is what you intend it to be.

Rape is an expression of power, control and dominance. It is not about sex. Since sexual intent is not present it cannot be a sex act. ALL speech acts, and rape is most certainly a speech act, must have an intention in action (the intended goal or outcome). The intention in action of rape is "I have power over you without your consent".

On the other hand two people can only be having sex if they both intend to be havine sex. We humans are perfectly capable of having sex even if we are on opposite sides of the earth and our only mode of communication is ascii characters on a cell phone. It doesn't even need to be detailed. All that is needed is that we intend it to be a mode of sexual expression.

It is a mistake to focus on biology when it comes to humans and our behaviors. We are language using agents and have the ability to transcend our biology. It is a category mistake to think that the mode of expression is what matters, it does not. All that matters is the intention in action and it is that intention that just *constitutes* having sex. What mode we choose to express out sexual intent *through* is incedental.

Gender is also a performance. "Woman" does not refer to females and "man" does not refer to males, it refers to those who perform the social role of woman or man. It is a wonderful fact that we can do these things.

Crude said...

Rape is an expression of power, control and dominance. It is not about sex. Since sexual intent is not present it cannot be a sex act. ALL speech acts, and rape is most certainly a speech act, must have an intention in action (the intended goal or outcome). The intention in action of rape is "I have power over you without your consent".

I'm pretty sure the next part very often is, "And I'm going to use that power for some sexual acts. Without your consent."

Are you really going to tell me that if no consent is involved, it isn't a sexual act at all? I can make any act into a sexual act by intending it to be so, but no rapist can ever even intend that the rape be a sexual act? I mean, clearly consent isn't necessary for a sex act according to you, unless the wall plugs have started talking.

We humans are perfectly capable of having sex even if we are on opposite sides of the earth and our only mode of communication is ascii characters on a cell phone.

Cybersex is 'having sex', full stop, but a rapist is not engaged in a sexual activity, ever? Filling a car with gas is a sexual act if I intend it, but rape is never a sexual act?

"Woman" does not refer to females and "man" does not refer to males, it refers to those who perform the social role of woman or man.

Oh, okay, now I'm starting to realize what's going on here.

mattghg said...

I think Brenda is just not using words with their standard meanings. I'm a grad student in Linguistics and I can tell you that when we say 'speech act' we definitely mean what is done by an act of speaking.

Brenda said...

mattghg said...
"when we say 'speech act' we definitely mean what is done by an act of speaking."

Raising your hand is speech. You are in class and the prof asks everyone if they want to leave early. It's such a beautiful day. If enough people agree then class is dismissed. "Raise your hand if you do"

Raising your hand then counts as a speech act but it only counts if your intention in action is that you are voting to dismiss the class. If you suddenly have a twitch and raise your arm that does not count and presumably you could make an appeal that you didn't actually *intend* to cast your vote for dismissal. (You have studying to do and would like to get on with it.)

Or imagine you are in a foreign country where you don't speak the language. It's perfectly possible for you to order a cup of espresso at the café without uttering a single word. Waving your arms around, gesturing, pointing, grunting etc are all speech acts and they can get the job done.

That's all language IS, it's conditions of satisfaction placed on conditions of satisfaction. In other words, the condition of satisfaction for voting in class is that you raise your arm. But that is not enough, there is an additional condition placed on raising your arm, namely that you *intend* to raise your arm.

Rape and "having sex" have two different conditions of satisfaction. In order for sex to occur there must be mutual consent. If there is no consent there is no sex because "sex" is not the physical act of coitus. You don't even need to be physically present for sex. All you need is the ability to communicate your intent that "we are having sex".

Rape is a completely different intention. It is "I am dominating you". I think the word rape should be reserved for "coitus without the partner's consent" so I wouldn't say that unwanted sexual advances say by telephone count are rape but the same intentional act is there. But it's always about power and expressing your power over another individual despite their objections.

The elderly and vulnerable get raped most often, young attractive co-eds not quite as much. Rapists take advantage of the vulnerable and they will rape an 85 year old woman if they can because it isn't about the sex, it's about power.

This is elementary feminism. Y'all should know better. While I don't always agree with every feminist principle I do agree with this and you all should think long and hard about the role of consent in future sexual relations if you're wise.

If I have to work so hard to explain heterosexuality 101 it seems difficult to explain more advanced topics.

Victor Reppert said...

I think that you can perform sexual acts for the sake of sexual gratification, or perform them to exercise power over another person. I suppose there are some rapes that are primarily motivated by the desire to dominate, and some that are motivated by a desire for sexual gratification. In one sense, rape is obviously a sex act, but if by sex act you mean an act primarily motivated by the desire for sexual gratification, then it need not be that.

For example, the typical picture of Sodom and Gomorrah is that the men of Sodom were wanted the enjoyment of homosexual activity, they noticed two new men in their city, and they pursued them for that purpose. Of course, they were rude enough not to ask for permission, but they were primarily motivated by out-of-control homosexual desire.

That's probably not right; I am inclined to think they saw two strangers in their city, they wanted to show them who was boss, and therefore demanded them for the sake of sexual domination.

Consider what happens when someone is sodomized with a broomstick. There's no physical gratification involved at all, but this is sometimes done to people to dominate them.

Brenda said...

The Crude one said:
"Are you really going to tell me that if no consent is involved, it isn't a sexual act at all?"

If one defines the physical act of coitus as sex then how do you account for cybersex? According to your definition Sexting (a real word now) cannot exist. If one's definitions fail to capture reality then I'm in favor of changing the words to match what is real.

The goal here is to understand the world and I think that understanding rape as a power relation is better. I'm pretty sure that by far most people in Western first world countries agree with me when I say it's about power and not sex.

"but no rapist can ever even intend that the rape be a sexual act?"

That's right, because in order for sex to occur there must be mutual consent. If you are engaging in coitus and you do not have the consent of your partner you are not having sex, you are engaged in a power relation where you are the dominant partner.

Which was the whole point of the article linked to in the OP. That in those times people (I expect mostly men but women can and have committed rape) used anal rape as a means or expression of domination and power. AND that, according to the link, was what "arsenokoites" was intended to refer and condemn. Namely those who engaged in that type of behavior. And that is not how we understand homosexuality today. Therefore "arsenokoites" does not refer to what we understand as homosexuality. Therefore loving homosexual unions are not prohibited in those sacred texts.

Got it?

"I'm starting to realize what's going on here."

I highly doubt that.

Jason Pratt said...

Sexting is pretty clearly a substitute for the physical event, and is dependent on the standard physical event for its referent meaning.

Someone could "sext" in order to annoy or show dominance without engaging in the physical action of it, but it's still using sexual behavior for that purpose.

(For a pre-internet example, see the infamous scene in the film Hair where hippies steal a horse in order to ride up to a group of female riders and harrass them with sexual terms, only some of which actually involve coitus per se! It's done to amuse the hippies with their own exertion of ideological power over the women, and amounts to a non-physical rape, even though the audience is supposed to think it's funny.)

Variant and aberrant versions of sexuality are still sexuality in variant and aberrant versions thereof. Flatly redefining the term to only refer to mutual consent and expecting everyone else to go along with it as though its inherent meaning is blatantly obvious, seems over-convenient.

(An insistence on the redefinition at least requires mutual consent--but a mutual consent of term usage against established linguistic norms for no clearly obvious reason. Thus the mutual consent reasonably unlikely to happen. Insert Freudian irony as appropriate. {wry g})

JRP

Brenda said...

Victor, my definition of sex as the collective intent that "we are having sex" is in line with Searle's speech act theory. How can anyone familiar with the internet not see that for sex to occur all you need is the ability to exchange information?

I understand that in common usage words are fuzzy things. That's why I feel the need to nail down the meaning here.

"In one sense, rape is obviously a sex act"

What do you mean by "sex act"? Do you mean to say that if there is no physical presence there is no intent to force sexual relations on another? Isn't phone sex a sex act? Under MY definition (it's not mine but..) I can explain phone sex the same way I explain any other sex act and I can explain "phone rape" similarly.

And this all goes back to TheoGeek's point, homosexual rape isn't what we mean by homosexuality today any more than we think hetro-rape is what anyone thinks of when we say "John and I had sex last night." Everyone assumes that there was mutual consent because that is what people mean when they say "we had sex". If John had unconsensual sex with her, or him, the victim would say "John raped me".

And yes I understand that I just used "sex" to stand for coitus but our language is like that. The same word can mean two diametrically opposed things in different contexts. That is why we need to be precise about our words and how they are used.

"they were primarily motivated by out-of-control homosexual desire."

No they weren't. They were motivated by a desire for homosexual rape. Homosexual desire as we understand it today implies mutual consent.

Brenda said...

Jason Pratt said...
"Someone could "sext" in order to annoy or show dominance without engaging in the physical action of it, but it's still using sexual behavior for that purpose."

You contradict yourself. If sexual behavior is *only* the physical act then how can sending ascii text count as sex? I say *any* exchange counts as sex if we intend for it to count as sex. It is simply not enough to describe the physical or biological phenomenon, in humans we must take the intent into account.

Ya know, there's a paper in this.

Crude said...

If one defines the physical act of coitus as sex then how do you account for cybersex? According to your definition Sexting (a real word now) cannot exist. If one's definitions fail to capture reality then I'm in favor of changing the words to match what is real.

Who said I 'defined the physical act of coitus' as sex? Heck, who said any sexual act must be coitus? I'm fine with calling cybersex a sexual act - I have a problem with this gaming of 'sexual acts' such that rape can never be sexual, but pumping gas can be.

The goal here is to understand the world and I think that understanding rape as a power relation is better. I'm pretty sure that by far most people in Western first world countries agree with me when I say it's about power and not sex.

Yeah, and I think you're wrong. More than that, what does that have to do with anything? Can most of the Western first world be wrong? You'd better hope so on this one.

That's right, because in order for sex to occur there must be mutual consent. If you are engaging in coitus and you do not have the consent of your partner you are not having sex, you are engaged in a power relation where you are the dominant partner.

No, not even according to your own definition. You said that plugging a power cord into an outlet is 'sexual if you want it to be'. So apparently only one party needs to view it as a sexual act, and then only in part.

You keep talking about a 'power relation' and dominance. Great. Sex acts and sexual acts can involve both. Clearly. You keep responding with an assertion of definition, but if that's all you got, well hey... You're having sex with me. Right now. In this discussion.

And I hate it. Stop it!

That in those times people (I expect mostly men but women can and have committed rape) used anal rape as a means or expression of domination and power.

And as a sexual act.

I highly doubt that.

Stop having sex with me, Brenda. No means no.

Seriously, this is reaching like crazy - and the best part is, you just keep asserting it, as if that makes all the objections and controversy with the claim go away. That may work in the right classroom on campus or in the right, niche internet forum. In the wrong place, you're just validating your Crazy Credentials.

In, apparently, an aggressively domineering sexual manner.

... Ugh.

Jason Pratt said...

Brenda,

You seem to have skipped over the part in Victor's reply where he agreed, against the traditional interpretation of the Sodom incident, that it wasn't about out-of-control homosexuality but about asserting territorial dominance.

Jason: {{Sexting is pretty clearly a substitute for the physical event, and is dependent on the standard physical event for its referent meaning.}}

That means I'm not contradicting myself when I go on immediately afterward to write, "Someone could 'sext' in order to annoy or show dominance without engaging in the physical action of it, but it's still using sexual behavior for that purpose."

My comments afterward are entirely consonant with that concept, too. A physically sexual act may not be occurring but sexual behavior is still being used in a variant fashion.


Brenda: {{I say *any* exchange counts as sex if we intend for it to count as sex.}}

Except when you turn around and deny that *ANY* exchange counts as sex if we intend for it to count as sex. Which you have to do in order to define "sex" as only involving consensual coital activity (physical or otherwise). If any exchange counts as sex when intended to count as sex, then rape counts as sex even though the intention also involves oppression.

There are multiple forms of oppression, and rape is a sexual form of oppression.

We don't have a good word for consensual sex in English so we use a verbal variant: partners have sex, instead of "sexing" (like a verb--although there are less polite verbs which might serve just as well for that purpose.)

This is exemplified in your own recent reply to Victor. The reason we all know you meant consensual sex in one usage is because you used the common verbal variant: "Everyone assumes that there was mutual consent because that is what people mean when they say 'we had sex'". The reason everyone assumes this is not because the word "sex" was used, but because the verbal variant "had sex" was used (maybe strengthened by the communal "we"). You could have written "we fucked" and everyone would have understood (unless qualified in some other way) that it was consensual, too.

Similarly, if you had quaintly said "we had coitus", everyone would have known that consensus was implied. The two terms are interchangeable.


I'm sympathetic about wanting to use terms more precisely for technical purposes; but "sex" is rarely if ever used in itself as a consensual term (so would be a poor choice as a technical term for consensual behavior related to procreation in various ways even when procreation is impossible as a result), and we already have plenty of ways to communicate consensus compared to non-consensus with sufficient accuracy.

JRP

BenYachov said...

If Brenda is going to start channeling that brain dead Andrea Dwarken crap then obviously it is futile to have a rational conversation with her.

I made a short non-controversial statement at the top of this blog and I get jumped on?

Sorry Brenda I don't need this I already have a wife.

PS:BTW stop raping Crude. He hates it.

One Brow said...

mattghg said...
I think Brenda is just not using words with their standard meanings. I'm a grad student in Linguistics and I can tell you that when we say 'speech act' we definitely mean what is done by an act of speaking.

In the US, spending money on a political ad is speaking.

Ilíon said...

Mike Darus: "B. Prokop: It is not fair to say that homosexual behavior is an obsession. It gains focus by being a currently controversial topic."

Translation: Just B.Prokop being Prokop.

Ilíon said...

"... but the people who join Gay Organizations and go to marches and make their sexual inclination into a full-blown case of identity are not obsessed."

I used to know, and try to be friends with, some such persons. I tell you, they were among the most boring people I have ever encountered. And, I quickly learned that, for various reasons and depending on the individuals, I didn't want to be in a public place with more than one at a time.

One Brow said...

Mike Darus said...
It is not fair to say that homosexual behavior is an obsession. It gains focus by being a currently controversial topic.

If the obsession did not exist, neither would the controversy.

Brenda said...

Jason Pratt said...
"You seem to have skipped over the part in Victor's reply where he agreed"

I wasn't responding to Victor.

"If any exchange counts as sex when intended to count as sex, then rape counts as sex even though the intention also involves oppression."

Ok, I agree that some rapist may think "I am using sex as a means of dominating you". But in common usage the word "sex" can have different and even conflicting meanings.

Homosexuality is not defined as the act of homosexual sex. Sexual orientation is not defined by the kind of sex one happens to engage in. Commentors here are confusing the biological act with the social institution. In common use "having sex" can mean ciotus or it can refer to a suit of social performances that people label as "sex".

People of the ancient world were like people today. And I'm pretty sure that as soon as you had large cosmopolitan cities you had the whole gamut of human sexual expression. I'm equally confident that they made whatever social adjustments they needed to.

What some authors believe is that what Paul was referring to was the practice of court prostitution of young boys

Brenda said...

BenYachov said...
"If Brenda is going to start channeling that brain dead Andrea Dwarken crap"

Not every feminist agrees with her and I doubt you know what she actually said as opposed to her media image.

Ilíon said...

Einfach: "If the obsession did not exist, neither would the controversy."

Traslation: stop resisting the cultural changes we wish to impose upon your societies and there won't be any controversy.

Crude said...

Ilion,

Translation: Just B.Prokop being Prokop.

I think Prokop was just railing against single issue voters, so he may have been on a completely different page.

I used to know, and try to be friends with, some such persons. I tell you, they were among the most boring people I have ever encountered. And, I quickly learned that, for various reasons and depending on the individuals, I didn't want to be in a public place with more than one at a time.

One of the most fascinating conversations I ever had was with a bisexual girl who had some very interesting commentary about one part of homosexual culture. A few things she insisted:

* The 'lesbian community' more or less has a revolving door built into it. Where you have a sizable number of girls who 'become lesbians', and then later pull an Anne Heche. One overriding claim being that lesbians are driven a whole lot more by politics, and that they don't compare well to the whole gay male community thing. (I remember a while ago some study suggesting that while male homosexual inclination seemed to have a genetic basis, the basis was largely missing with lesbians.)

* One thing I always suspected, but it was interesting to hear support of it: The claim that gays and lesbians aren't exactly too enthralled about being lumped in with transexuals. (Long story short: "They're actually pretty crazy.")

* Various other tidbits about the tension between homosexual-inclined males and lesbians and so on and so forth. With the former being more likely to be professionals and wealthy, and the latter more likely to work in LESBIAN POWER setups and thus many being poor or on the dole.

I also remember having a conversation with a guy who went on and on trying to convince me about how his 'lifestyle was completely normal' and how he's 'been in a committed monogamous relationship with his boyfriend for X years', thus offering himself as evidence against supposed gay promiscuity.

The problem was, I knew other friends of this particular guy, so I was privy to conversations he had with other people that he didn't realize confided in me. I wanted to ask, "Why are you talking about ~decade of monogamy when you have an open relationship, and you've been blowing guys at the AIDS clinic you volunteer at? Also, do you think that lying to my face says something about your own feelings on this matter?"

That said, I personally throw people with these inclinations in with furries: I have a low view of the activity (in this case for natural law and religious reasons), but I can separate it from their person if they kindly stop asking for my approval and support. Furries are more likely to grant this in practice. And while the conversation was interesting, the people weren't necessarily - and with some there really seems to be an aspect of, "Holy hell, is it possible for you to talk or be about anything else?"

That's the real tragedy of the situation. I actually think, biblically and otherwise, these are condemnable activities comparable to many other common ones. It's just the others tend not to have - sorry Bob - an obsession over the whole damn thing.

There's my complete two cents.

Ilíon said...

"... at the AIDS clinic you volunteer at."

Talk about "hair of the dog"!

The Deuce said...

Rape is an expression of power, control and dominance. It is not about sex. Since sexual intent is not present it cannot be a sex act.

Well then, apparently rape doesn't exist at all! After all, the very definition of rape is "a forcible sex act"! That's what distinguishes it from, say, forcing someone to give you their lunch money, or go to a really awful chick flick. But, since it's not a sex act or about sex after all, there must not be any such thing as rape! Brilliant!

BenYachov said...

I believe what people mean by "rape is not about sex" is the idea a rapist isn't really for the most part a horny person who is so overcome with sexual lust he forces himself on another person to relieve that lust.

Rather the rapist is a sadistic person who derives his primary enjoyment from the sadistic pleasure he feels in forcing somebody to do what they don't want to do and degrade that person so they may feel powerful at the victims expense.

The forced sex act is merely a tool to that end.

But OTOH when making love & one of the persons is shall we say more dominant that is between the couple.

If a guy doesn't mind his wife acting all Xena on him or if a gal doesn't mind if her hubby is Don Juanish. That's between them.

I fail to see how sexual dominance has anything to do with rape? Rape is the crime of forced sex. But during consensual sex who ever turns out to be dominant hey just go with it.

There that solves that no need to thank me.

Anonymous said...

Ben: "I believe what people mean by "rape is not about sex" is the idea a rapist isn't really for the most part a horny person who is so overcome with sexual lust he forces himself on another person to relieve that lust."

That probably fits the classic serial rapist profile. However, since rape has a legal definition, it can also include the event where a partially intoxicated male lusts after a female (possibly intoxicated too) and due to the reduced inhibition brought on by the alcoholic intoxication and impaired judgement (he may misconstrue her signals and believe she actually wants sex) he forces himself on her, believing she really wants him, for the purpose of relieving his arousal and not to subjugate her per se.