Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sexual graphic in the Bible is inapropriate for children

Quite long and VERY informative.

Almost everything we think we know about the Bible and sex is wrong.

Instead of being a list of sexual shalt-nots, the Bible contains so much graphic eroticism that parents may want to keep the sacred text away from youth under age 18.

Indeed, that’s what 2,000 Hong Kong residents tried to do in May when they called on a Chinese decency commission to restrict the Bible to adults only because it contains passages that seem to give the okay to incest, rape, adultery and a father offering his daughters to strangers for sexual gratification.

The Bible — which has been the foundation for much of the world’s sex-related laws — is actually, it seems, quite erotic, and surprisingly soft on things like prostitution and polygamy.

And even though some Bible passages criticize homoeroticism, others non-judgmentally describe prominent men loving other men in a sensual way. The Bible, as well, frequently employs sexual communion as a metaphor for how humans can passionately relate to God.

As if that’s not enough to shatter prim and proper stereotypes, the Bible contains sections such as the Songs of Songs, which highlight sensual delight in ways that could snap open the eyes of unwary adults, let alone children.

Even though the protesting Hong Kong residents were trying to make a wry point about the dangers of Chinese government censorship, The Song of Songs from the Hebrew Bible (which Christians call the Old Testament) is, really, quite hot. It makes 38 metaphorical references to male and female genitals and includes several cheery accounts of oral sex. It does not mention God once.

For good and ill, what we think the Bible says about sex matters a great deal.

In the U.S., the Bible and sex is at the root of the politically manipulated “culture wars.” Canadian laws on everything from marriage to abortion were, until recently, governed by how people read the Bible.

What the Bible says about homosexuality continues to divide the worldwide Christian church — with Canadian Anglicans next week taking on the thorny topic in Winnipeg at their once-every-three years General Synod.

Those include the Bible’s wonderful sexual euphemisms — in which genitals are described as “feet,” “thighs,” “mandrakes,” “pomegranates” and “hanging fruit.” Meanwhile, the most common euphemisms for intercourse are “to enter,” “to lie with,” “to know” and “to go into.”

Despite the emphasis some Christian and, to a lesser extent, Jewish leaders, have placed on the Bible’s apparent denunciations of some kinds of sex, such passages are few and far between — and even then often contradictory.

The Bible sends no message, or mixed messages, about divorce, adultery, masturbation, abortion, celibacy, sexual abstinence, homosexual relations and even sex with slaves, says Hornsby, who could be described as a moderate-to-liberal Bible scholar.

It should come as no surprise that some scholars will disagree with some of Hornsby’s historical contextualizing, but that’s the name of the game in Bible study. It’s all about interpretation, formally known as hermenuetics.

Masturbation? There is no prohibition against it in the Bible, Hornsby says. The famous Genesis story of Onan, for instance, has nothing to do with masturbation being bad.

It’s about a royal man engaging in coitus interruptus to shirk his procreative duties to his deceased husband’s wife, so that his own son would inherit riches. Meanwhile, the song of Songs 5:2-6, includes a self-pleasuring female erotic fantasy that may knock your socks off.

Abortion? The issue that makes or breaks political elections in dozens of countries? There is no specific word for abortion in the Bible, Hornsby says.

It is equally difficult, she maintains, to determine any clearcut message from the Bible about the touchy subject of birth control.

Polygamy comes out oddly — since a lot of Bible heroes, including Abraham, Jacob and David, had multiple wives and no one seems to care.

There are, as well, no Biblical words for “husband” or “wife,” unless you consider “master” a synonym for husband.

Actually, master would be a fitting description, because in Biblical times women were considered property, like sheep. In such a context, female adultery was ranked as theft

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