Discovering the LGBT Presence in the Bible
Looking at the Bible in this new way is about reading between the lines. We spend a lot of time analyzing what each story, paragraph and sentence means, down to the very last comma. We should also spend time considering what the Bible is not saying, especially if we are to believe its words with our whole hearts.
Take for instance the creation story. God speaks into existence all of creation. We read how God creates man and woman, land and water, night and day. Yet we never read a portion where God creates dawn and dusk. This does not mean that when this time of day rolls around, we cover our eyes and pretend it does not exist. Dawn and dusk have become our most celebrated parts of the day and a time in which we admire transition, being neither here nor there, being both night and day.
Genesis 37: 3-4, Luke his father, Joseph was also effeminate: 3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. 4 But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him.
The word described by tunic or “coat of many colors” is k'tonet passim. The only other person to wear a k'tonet passim was Tamar in 2 Samuel 13: 6-18, and is understood to be a very pretty, princess-like dress.
Genesis 25:27, Jacob, the effeminate twin: 27 So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents.
Mark 14:12-14, Jesus gives significance to a social outsider: 12 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare, that You may eat the Passover?”
13 And He sent out two of His disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him. 14 Wherever he goes in, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’
Consider how Jesus chooses this one person as a landmark. He could have chosen anyone as a landmark to guide his eager disciples to their destination, but Jesus chose to highlight the existence of a man who was not following along the traditional gender lines of his biological sex. Men did not carry pitchers of water. That was women’s work, especially in this place in history. If this happened today, it would be the same as Jesus asking one of us to go find a man wearing read high heels. It was that obvious that the man was stepping out of his gender role. Yet this was the man Jesus spoke of.
Matthew 19: 11-12, Noticing gender non-conforming, transgender and intersex people: 11 But He said to them, “All cannot accept this saying, but only those to whom it has been given: 12 For there are eunuchs who were born thus from their mother’s womb, and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake. He who is able to accept it, let him accept it.”
Acts 8:26-38, The gospels highlight the importance of the first gentile convert, and their eunuch identity: 26 Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot.”
30 So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”
31 And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. 32 The place in the Scripture which he read was this:
“ He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
33 In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.”[a]
34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”
And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”[b]
38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
Esther 2:15-17, The holy role of gender nonconforming people: 15 Now when the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his daughter, to go in to the king, she requested nothing but what Hegai the king’s eunuch, the custodian of the women, advised. And Esther obtained favor in the sight of all who saw her. 16 So Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. 17 The king loved Esther more than all the other women, and she obtained grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins; so he set the royal crown upon her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
The Apocrypha, The Gospel of Thomas: Apocrypha are books that were written about Jesus but not included in the Bible cannon as we know it. Fundamentalist Christians do not regard this material as “holy scripture” because of this. If it were included, this saying of Jesus would teach us a lot about what Jesus thought about transgender identities.
22. Jesus saw some babies nursing. He said to his
disciples, "These nursing babies are like those who enter
the (Father's) kingdom."
They said to him, "Then shall we enter the (Father's)
kingdom as babies?"
Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and
when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like
the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make
male and female into a single one, so that the male will not
be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in
place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place
of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will
enter [the kingdom]."
Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Identities
Genesis 2:18, Same-sex unions: The Lord God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Some translations say “helpmate,” others say “partner,” but each translation describing the person who will accompany Adam on his first footsteps on earth uses a non-gendered word, “helper.” It isn’t until later that we learn Adam’s mate is woman, and that her name is Eve.
Ruth 1:14-19 The vow that Ruth and Naomi made to each other is the same vow that. What could have prompted such passionate loyalty other than love? 14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 And she said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said:
“Entreat me not to leave you,
Or to turn back from following after you;
For wherever you go, I will go;
And wherever you lodge, I will lodge;
Your people shall be my people,
And your God, my God.
17 Where you die, I will die,
And there will I be buried.
The Lord do so to me, and more also,
If anything but death parts you and me.”
18 When she saw that she was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her.
19 Now the two of them went until they came to Bethlehem. And it happened, when they had come to Bethlehem, that all the city was excited because of them; and the women said, “Is this Naomi?”
1 Samuel 1:26, David and Jonathan’s souls are knit together: Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. 3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.
1 Samuel 18: 1-4, Jonathan and David make a covenant to each other: Now when he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 Saul took him that day, and would not let him go home to his father’s house anymore. 3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 And Jonathan took off the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, even to his sword and his bow and his belt.
1 Samuel 20: 41-42, They swear that their love will live on through generations: 41 As soon as the lad had gone, David arose from a place toward the south, fell on his face to the ground, and bowed down three times. And they kissed one another; and they wept together, but David more so. 42 Then Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, since we have both sworn in the name of the Lord, saying, ‘May the Lord be between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants, forever.’” So he arose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.
2 Samuel 1:26, David confesses that his love for Jonathan is greater than that of a woman:
I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
You have been very pleasant to me;
Your love to me was wonderful,
Surpassing the love of women.