Saturday, May 06, 2006

Dynes on Boswell:

Let me turn your attention to Wayne Dynes's blog (another site which I will permalink once I reboot my template). Dynes's blog should get more attention by the blogsphere than it does, as there is a treasure trove of historical information to be found in there.

Dynes is the editor of The Encyclopedia of Homosexuality and a retired professor of art history at Hunter College, City University of New York. He is also well known for criticizing the work of the late historian John Boswell of Yale. Back when the progay side was cheering Boswell's argument for a progay reading of the Bible, Dynes was one of the few prominent scholarly voices on the progay side (Boswell, of course, had lots of antigay critics) cautioning against Bowsell's revisionist view of Christianity and homosexuality.

And Wayne has new post on the matter. Check it out.

Though I haven't read Boswell's book, I am aware of its arguments. My own thoughts are, first, Boswell is right on the tale of Sodom and Gomorrah. From a plain text, literal reading of the tale, homosexuality is only a peripheral issue. The main crime of the people of those towns was that they attempted to brutally gang rape strangers. True, God had decided to destroy the town before that particular act. But that incident with the two angels was descriptive of the kind of evil people that inhabited those towns: The kind of brutally inhospitable people who would gang rape strangers. Thus, the tale, on its face, appears to have nothing to do with voluntarily chosen and consensual homosexual acts. Yet, Leviticus still clearly condemns homosexual acts. Likewise so does Paul in the New Testament.

My own reply is, especially with Leviticus, so what? The Bible, especially the Old Testament, says a lot very strange things. So unless one believes that the book is the inerrant word of God, which I don't (and even most self-described Christians, I'd imagine, don't believe that), Leviticus and other passages of the Bible can simply be written off as part of the, to use Thomas Jefferson's word, "dunghill" of nonsensical dogma contained in almost all holy books. The antigay passages of the Bible certainly are not part of the, again to use Jefferson's term, "diamonds" of Truth and Wisdom that are scattered all over the Bible.

1 comment:

Bill Ware said...

Based on the conversations that Lot had with God, it was the lack of righteousness that was the overall problem. The story details some of the activities that people were engaging in which were distracting them from being righteous. Funny how some focus on the homosexuality and fail to consider any of the rest of the list, many of which would be considered normal if not for the excesses described. Yet their downfall wasn't specific to any behavior at all. It was their complete lack of righteousness that did them in at the end.