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What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality Paperback – May 1, 2000

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Helminiak, a Roman Catholic priest, has done careful reading in current biblical scholarship about homosexuality. While cautioning against viewing biblical teaching as "the last word on sexual ethics," he stresses the need for accurate understanding of what the biblical "facts" are and concludes that "the Bible supplies no real basis for the condemnation of homosexuality." Using the studies of Yale historian John Boswell (Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe, LJ 7/94), New Testament seminary professor L. William Countryman, and others, Helminiak examines the story of Sodom (where the sin was inhospitality), Jude's decrying sex with angels, and five texts-Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:27, I Corinthians 6:9, and I Timothy 1:10-all of which, he concludes, "are concerned with something other than homogenital activity itself." Highly recommended for all libraries.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Believing that the translation of the Bible they use consists of the inerrant word of God, some Christians cite a handful of passages to justify their condemnation of homosexuality. But historical biblical scholarship holds that these believers' conception of inerrancy is naively based, for English versions of the originally Hebrew and Greek scriptures are rife with problematic translations. Some scholars further maintain that the supposedly antihomosexual passages are not blanket condemnations of homosexual persons and acts. Indeed, in some cases, these verses aren't about homosexuality at all; they meant quite different things to those for whom they were first written, peoples whose social conceptions of sexuality were vastly different from ours. Helminiak provides cogent, accessible precis of these revisionist findings on the Bible's six major passages and few minor references that seem to denounce homosexuality. The Bible does not condemn gay sex as we understand it today, he concludes; those who seek to know outright if gay or lesbian sex is good or evil . . . will have to look elsewhere for an answer. An extremely valuable contribution to popular gay and biblical studies. Ray Olson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Alamo Square Press; Millenium edition (May 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 188636009X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1886360099
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

On the surface, Daniel Helminiak is Professor of Psychology at the University of West Georgia in Carrollton, near Atlanta. This department of psychology is committed to the humanistic and transpersonal traditions, so Daniel is easily able to focus his research on spirituality--not as a religious concern but first and foremost as a built-in aspect of humanity. He considers his specialization to be the psychology of spirituality.

But there is more. Daniel is most widely known for his best-selling book "What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality." In two editions, it has sold over 100,000 copies and is translated into six languages. This book began as a hobby. Over a number of years, Daniel researched this book to work out his own issues, struggling with being Catholic and gay, and he wrote the book to share with others the solid conclusion that, taken on its own terms and read against its own historical and cultural context, the Bible simply does not condemn same-sex relationships as we understand them today. Unavoidably, then, Daniel became a controversial figure in today's culture wars, and human sexuality became another focus of his study. Every semester, he teaches the course on Human Sexuality at the University of West Georgia.

Daniel was well qualified to do that biblical research. After four years of graduate study in Rome--living in the Scots (not the American) College there, speaking Italian on the streets, and studying and passing oral exams in Latin--he was ordained a Catholic priest. After four more years of parish ministry in his hometown Pittsburgh, he moved into educational circles and in various ways served in active priestly ministry for 27 years. In the process, he earned a PhD in systematic theology at Boston College and Andover Newton Theological School.

Perhaps the most important event in Daniel's life was his being appointed teaching assistant to the Jesuit Professor Bernard J. F. Lonergan at Boston College. Lonergan is widely recognized as one of the great minds of Western civilization. Newsweek styled him as the Thomas Aquinas of the 20th Century. As Aquinas is renowned for integrating pagan Aristotelian thought with Christianity in the 13th Century, Lonergan worked out the integration of modern science with Christian thought for the third millennium. Lonergan's thought undergirds everything that Daniel thinks, says, and writes. Lonergan's analysis of human consciousness provides the core for Daniel's psychology of spirituality.

Daniel's intellectual journey has been entwined with his personal story--his having to deal with being gay, for example. Again, born and raised in the tight-knit Polish Catholic community of South Side, Pittsburgh, Daniel used that experience as a model for "Spirituality for Our Global Community." Or again, Daniel's lifelong practice of meditation and his ministry to the LGBT community resulted in "Meditation without Myth." Or again, Daniel's preaching to Dignity communities resulted in the essays of "The Transcended Christian."

And again, Daniel's years in Rome coincided with the Second Vatican Council, the worldwide meetings that Pope John XXIII called to "open the windows" and let some fresh air into the Catholic Church. So Daniel and his generation enthusiastically believed the Catholic Church would finally embrace contemporary science and culture. Unfortunately, that change did not occur. As Pope John Paul II relentlessly tightened up the system again, Daniel resigned his teaching position at the graduate Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio and moved to Austin to earn a second PhD, this time in psychology, at the University of Texas. There he was also trained in psychotherapy and named a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, and later he was licensed as a Professional Counselor in the state of Georgia. He was also elected a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. At the University of West Georgia, enjoying "the freedom of the children of God" (Romans 8:21) on a non-religiously-controlled campus, he continues what he considers an educational ministry.

As a psychotherapist, social scientist, and theologian, as a teacher, lecturer, and author, Daniel integrates religion and psychology and, thus, suggests what wholesome human living means in a pluralistic and secularized world. This spiritual theme runs through all his books. His website is www.visionsofdaniel.net

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As Father Helminiak points out, the Bible has no concept of homosexuality, which is a modern concept and word. What one can study is what the Bible says about what we would class as some forms of homosexual behavior. But the biblical authors lacked the concept, and so could not classify anything as homosexual. Therefore, there can be no general condemnation of homosexual behavior (our concept) in the Bible, like it or not. That's the fact.
There are only a few texts in the Bible that clearly refer to homosexual behavior, and a few others, which may do so. However, to mention something, even in the Bible, is not always to condemn it. The contrary assumption is simply the fallacy of special pleading.
Most of the points Dr. Helminiak makes are nothing new to anyone who has seriously looked into the subject.
The Sodom story in Gen. 19:1-29 is really about the abuse of strangers, who according to the mores of the area should be offered food and shelter. It is well known that no text in the Bible interprets the sin of Sodom as homosexual behavior, but a whole host of other things. Helminiak makes the very apt point that it is really those who give a hard time to the strangers and outsiders in our time (which would include homosexuals in great part) are the ones really guilty of the sin of Sodom.
Lev 18:22 and 20:13 are parts of the Holiness Code, a body of (ritual) uncleanness laws. The Holiness Code explicitly tries to keep the Israelites different from the pagans whose practices were considered impure, and probably involves a religious aversion to mixing of kinds (as sewing two kinds of seeds in a field or using to kinds of thread to make a cloth). The term translated as "abomination" in the King James Version is simply a term for uncleanness. Easily provable.
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By A Customer on September 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Helminiak's most important contribution to Biblical scholarship is not a new or creative viewpoint, but a readable summary of what we already know. And for me, the major revelation in Helminiak's book is not that homosexuality is okay, but that the Bible gives us what we need to understand this issue. A Christian only has to read Romans to learn that unrighteousness and uncleanness are two different things. The New Testament makes it clear that unrighteousness is inherently wrong, while uncleanness is not. And Paul clearly identifies homosexuality as uncleanness (Romans 1:26-27). We cannot honestly conclude from scripture, then, that homosexuality is wrong. This is only a small part of the Biblical evidence Helminiak presents, and all the evidence leads to the same conclusion.
With this information available, why do well-meaning Christians still argue that the Bible says homosexuality is wrong? I suggest that there are at least four reasons. First, the Bible has been mistranslated, and second, we read what we've been taught into scripture. Third, many Christians don't understand important Biblical concepts, such as uncleanness. And finally, people cling to their opinions so zealously that they even end up reinterpreting God's Word to avoid changing their own minds. As Helminiak suggests, Christians should get clear as to why they believe what they do, and stop imposing their own views on scripture. It's time to be honest about what the Bible says.
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Coming from a fundamentalist background - and being gay - I always found the two worlds always at odds. Now I have an intellegent, Biblical, and social defense to those who would try to deny my relationship with God. Not an easy read, but definitely a "must read" for any gay Christian and their families.
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This book points in the right direction by arguing that what the Bible says about homosexuality is not what a great many Christians, especially Biblical literalists, think it says. Father Helminiak examines every passage in both Hebrew and Christian testaments that many today use to condemn homosexuality. He points out that some were rules aimed at keeping the ancient Hebrew tribe pure (as in Leviticus) while others (as in the letters of the apostle Paul) have been subjected to either mistranslation or misunderstanding of the contemporary social standards. The author does not make an air-tight case, and some of his arguments are more persuasive than others. He might have done better to emphasize simply that the overwhelming message of the Christian Gospels is one of love and acceptance of all, but his careful study of chapter and verse at least points out the ambiguity of the scriptures on this subject. His strongest point is to make it clear that it is misleading to take some Biblical passages out of their immediate historical & social context and apply them to our contemporary culture. The book of Leviticus, for example, applies the same language to homosexual acts as it uses to forbid the eating of pork or shrimp. Helminiak urges a historical-critical approach to reading the Bible as the way to truly understand its meaning.
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This book is really a MUST HAVE, it is intelligent, involves a great deal of research, yet remains simply written, giving plenty of examples to drive its point home. This is for anyone who is struggling to reconscile their homosexuality or bisexuality with biblical scripture or has relatives convinced that homosexuality is a sin according to Judaism/Christianity. Helminiak, uses his research to prove that the Bible is decidedly neutral on the issue of homosexuality and bisexuality. With its simple writing style, "What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality" has made me nearly a scholar on biblical issues concerning same sex relations. This book is so good, I am buying several extra copies to give out and lend out to people. Definitely worth your money.
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