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Possible anti-gay clobber text: Deuteronomy 23:17 Sodomites and shrine prostitutes

August 3, 2015

shrine prostitutesDeuteronomy 23:17 in the King James Version states: “There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.”

similar passages: 1 Kings 14:24 And there were also male prostitutes in the land: and they did according to all the abominations of the nations which the LORD cast out before the children of Israel.

1 Kings 15:12 And he took away the male prostitutes out of the land, and removed all the idols that his fathers had made.

1 Kings 22:46 And the remnant of the male prostitutes, who remained in the days of his father Asa, he took out of the land.

2 Kings 23:7 And he brake down the houses of the sodomites, that were by the house of the LORD, where the women wove hangings for the grove.


 The Hebrew word “quadesh” is translated in the King James Version here as “sodomite.” Other Bible translations use the term “cult prostitute” or “shrine prostitute.”   “Qadesh” literally “means ‘holy one’ and is here used to refer to a man who engages in ritual prostitution” in a Pagan temple. 2 Among Pagan religions in the Middle East, worship often involved ritual sex in the temple, “often with a sacred prostitute who was like a priest or priestess. This sacred sexual activity was believed to encourage the god(s) to bestow fertility on the earth and its creatures.” Male shrine prostitutes would have sex with females; female prostitutes with males.

 conservative interpretation: Many Evangelicals prefer the KJV to the NIV translation of this verse. It condemns all male homosexual activity, and is thus applicable to all male gays today, whether they are engaged in casual sex or in a monogamous, consensual, committed relationship. God’s word repeatedly upholds one-man, one-women marriage as God’s intent for relationships. It also repeatedly condemns same-sex behaviour between two men and perhaps between two women as well.

liberal interpretation: Genesis does mention the pairing off of one man and one woman into a marriage-like relationship. But this is only one of many possible marital or family relationships. There are a total of eight types mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures. Genesis 19 definitely condemns rape. But this is unrelated to consensual same-sex sexual behaviour. The phrases in Leviticus only apply to Jews engaging in same-sex activity in Pagan temples. The references to sodomites in Deuteronomy etc. is a clear error in translation. Again it refers to ritual sex in Pagan temples.

There is nothing in the Hebrew Scriptures that condemns same-sex committed relationships or same-sex marriage.

With the almost complete absence of dialogue between religious conservatives and others on these topics, the massive gulf over homosexuality and the Bible — and about the morality of same-sex sexual behaviour — will probably not be resolved in the foreseeable future.

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