I need help with an Exegesis Catholic Scripture Passage regarding homosexuality, and then applying the 3 worlds of the text (behind, of and in front of) to the scripture.  Any help is greatly...

I need help with an Exegesis Catholic Scripture Passage regarding homosexuality, and then applying the 3 worlds of the text (behind, of and in front of) to the scripture. 

Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank you! 

Expert Answers
durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Interpreting texts, especially biblical texts, is difficult and relies heavily on subjective issues such as upbringing and culture, religion and moral code. Emotional responses to actions or events often cause a distortion of facts as do fragmented readings of scripture which remove real context and allow for misunderstanding and misinterpretation. Exegesis is therefore an attempt to make an objective evaluation and critical analysis of a text, based on the intention at the time and the teaching that would have been relevant to the audience thousands of years ago and which can be applied to a modern audience wherein any personal evaluation is removed. 

A passage regarding homosexuality which could be referenced is "If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death," taken from the New International Version (NIV, Leviticus 20:13). 

Biblical criticism is an area which has explored and will continue to explore the motivations behind recorded scripture. The world behind the text relates to the original author of the text, his background and the main reasons why he wrote the text. The world of the text relates to those being described or referred to and how they affect the writer. The world in front of the text relates to the reader and how he understands what he reads without reference to who may have written it or why.   

First of all, and a point which is relevant to all three worlds is the fact that The Bible is intended to help people live according to God's Will and therefore it should assist those writing it, those about whom it is written and those now learning from it. 

For the world behind and of the text, there would have been no translation issues and word meanings would have been understood in their relevant context. For those in front of the text, the major stumbling block is translation and words such as "detestable" have their own modern interpretation whereas, in context, there may have been a link to many other acts which were considered to be detestable or abominable such as idolizing false gods. In I Corinthians, depending on which version is being referred to, "sexual perverts" or "homosexual offenders" are grouped with adulterers and drunkards or idolaters. Drunkards basically idolize alcohol and adulterers idolize sexual acts outside of their own marriage. As the audience would have been average people and most people in biblical times married, a man who lies with a man is effectively assumed to be committing something similar to adultery as he would presumably be married to a woman at the time. Terminology is crucial. Using the word adultery may have been inappropriate because it specifically referred to man and woman and for those behind and of the text a distinction was necessary.      

Unfortunately the Bible is often used as a tool to pass judgment on others. We are reminded not to "judge, or you too will be judged... and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you" (NIV Matthew 7:1-2). Leviticus 20:13 which speaks of the "crime" being punishable by death would serve as a warning to those behind and of the text because trying to be civilized was difficult and there was no prison or rehabilitation so everything had to be absolute. Anyone operating outside the "norm" could not be trusted and the only way to avoid anarchy was to remove non-conformists. 

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator


The acts themselves were not judged at all. However, to those in front of the text, the extreme measures seem to represent the severity of the crime. Stoning was accepted practice and even children were not spared if they committed what today would be considered petty. This then modifies the modern belief that homosexuality itself was one of the most serious offences. It was an offence because, like so many others, it fell outside of the traditional structure. In terms of the worlds behind and of the text, it was that deviation from what they knew which was being punished.

"Love your neighbor as yourself... whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it"(NIV James 2:8-10).