clobbering THE clobber text
I most certainly have been clobbered by these verses (I'm not asking for pity/apologies/sorrow, so responders please don't 🙏🏼), but in any case, I was introduced to another interpretation of those texts a while back that I found interesting:
Essentially that the verses command men not to lie with men as if they are lying with women. We acknowledge a lens of heteronormativity upon this verse and say, just don't treat this like a heterosexual relationship, because it isn't. Maybe treating people like the identity they have, and not forcing something else upon them?
“Because in the days when drag bans are getting passed and gun bans aren’t, knowing your text inside and out matters.
We have to fight against the encroaching theocracy in many ways at once. One of those ways includes disemboweling bad readings of sacred texts—especially the bad readings that are used to harm people—at every available opportunity.”
Thank you for doing this work!
Absolutely wonderful to read this today. I've heard plenty of clobber verses from both Leviticus and from the letters of St. Paul, and the readings you provide match up with what I've come away with.
There's a lot to be said for the exploitation of others' bodies as the real abomination in these verses, as opposed to a genuine and consensual relationship between equals of the same sex. So much of the code of holiness is about sanctifying one's home, one's body, and one's relationships, honoring the gifts provided by God. By that logic, it's only fair that anyone who abuses another (in the same vein as bestiality and child sacrifice) is the real sin.
This is such perfect timing thank you so much for this. I’ve been trying to find good sources for this stuff and nervous where to start.
Sometimes in describing what cannot be done, it leaves out the good when the actions are done in a caring way.. For many of the people who decry LBGTQ+ actions based on their interpretations of the Biblical words, the thought that there are good, kind people doing these actions is inconceivable. That is something missing from the text.
I just had an argument with someone over this. Thank you so much for the additional unpacking!
Hi Danya, I just wanted to thank you again for writing this post. I wish I could have read this when I was a teenager. I shared it with my daughter who is 16. The post meant much. I recommended your Substack this week in my pride post where I share my story. I share it in the hope that through conversation and education, we can become a more accepting, open, loving world. Thank you!! https://pocketfulofprose.substack.com/p/a-rainbow-is-an-internal-reflection
I do like the narrowing that Yehuda haNasi does, and the others that you highlight, because the idea that 18:22 is just there to say “male equivalents too” doesn’t really seem to make sense because 18:22 is just a really, really kludgy way to do that if that is all it is meant to be.
This is great -- thank you!
I have read it as being a prohibition against acts of sexual subjugation (meaning against rape, but not against consensual sex-fantasy role-playing) between men, and not as a prohibition against consensual sex between men with equal autonomy. I think it meant that it was not okay for a man to subjugate another man to a lower status comparable to the the lower status, and lesser legal rights, of a woman. Read like that it's enraging for different reasons, not because it's anti-queer, but because it's misogynous.
If the point of a man "not lying with a man as the lyings of a woman" was limited to protecting the higher status and legal rights of men from sexual subjugation, while leaving in place the accepted practice of men subjugating women sexually, it renders women vulnerable to exploitation, as people with lesser legal rights and status. It blatantly categorizes women as inferior to, and subject to, men.
I think it's a mistake to interpret the Torah story of Sodom as denouncing sex between men. I think the story was meant to instead denounce rape and subjugation between men. In the story Lot offers his daughters to a mob of male rapists, women offered as substitute victims, in order to protect the visiting male house guests from becoming victims of gang rape. So I don't think Lot was trying to stop men from having consensual sex with men. I think Lot was trying to stop men from raping and subjugating other men. But Lot gave the rape perpetrators permission to abuse his daughters (his property), as if that would somehow make the crime of rape not as terrible. Allowing the subjugation of people, including through rape or sex trafficking, reduces the exploited people to "it" status of "I-it" relationships -- which are relationships of terror and tyranny, through forced subjugation and domination --instead of preserving respect for their equality in 'I-Thou" relationships.
Wonderful post. What is this "lyings of a woman?" The text seems *not* to say "a male--do not lie with another male". Instead, the circumstances for the 'not lying' are modified, somehow. To me, the English word choice "lyings" is incomprehensible. Maybe this is some long established euphemism? I'd love to hear your comments about that word/phrase.
I love your brain.