According to a California professor, sexual relationships are defined differently in the Bible than they are in our society today.
On Monday, students gathered in Dina’s Place Theater in the DiGiorgio Campus Center to hear Dr. David Stewart, an expert in Biblical studies and a professor of religious studies at California State University, talk about homosexuality in the Old Testament in an event called “Same-sex Relations in the Hebrew Bible.”
The turnout was high with every seat being filled. Before beginning his presentation, Stewart warned the audience, “I think there will be things that I say tonight that you may never have heard before.”
According to Stewart, sexual relationships are defined differently in the Bible than they are in our society today. For example, in Genesis 6, humans are described as having sex with angels. Additionally, what our society would consider incest is not seen as incest in the Bible. According to Stewart, the book of Leviticus seems to only condemn incest in certain cases.
Stewart says same-sex relations appear in the natural world. Also, same-sex gender relations are contemplated in creation. Male-on-male incest is only forbidden in certain contexts. Furthermore, homosexual relations are forbidden in Leviticus, but lesbianism is not even mentioned within the book. The relationship between Naomi and Ruth could be interpreted to mean that lesbianism is not completely prohibited. The entire Bible seems to “draw a veil over it,” according to Stewart’s interpretation.
“If more people saw things like this, they wouldn’t shy away from church. The fire and brimstone type of church drive people away; church should not be like that,” said Allison Tou, a psychology major.
Naomi Stevens, a junior psychology major, says that she doesn’t mind homosexuality. “It’s a person whom you love,” Stevens said.
In the case of rape, the Bible says if a woman is raped in the countryside she’s a victim because no one heard her cry out. Conversely, if she’s raped in the city, it’s her fault, because if she were truly raped then someone would’ve heard her cries. In the Bible, rape is frowned upon, but not explicitly forbidden.
“[The event] showcased things people tend to ignore,” said Leverg Wilkes, a sophomore history major.
Much of what Stewart was teaching seemed to differ from what people learn during church services.
“I found it very different from church point of view. It was an eye-opening experience,” Cameron Jones, a junior math major, said.
As Stewart said, the Bible begs the question, “Is what not forbidden permitted?”