One misinterpretation of a word in Paul’s letters found in the New Testament could mean a major shift in belief for Christians and Catholics. Cryptographer Michael Wood just published his newest public domain book “Pauline Paradoxes Decoded,” which explains how the apostle Paul actually defends the rights of homosexuals.
Due to an older and less accurate interpretation of the word “arsenokoitēs,” Paul’s teachings come off as a major criticism of homosexuality, which is where many people of the Christian faith say their own rejection of homosexuality is founded upon. Through this new discovery and explanation, the most important commandment of Jesus is fulfilled in a more contemporary and more universal way. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Romans 13.8-9). In essence, this interpretation focuses on Paul’s paramount teachings- kindness, justice, and universal brotherly love- and takes away from the notion of condemning a sexual orientation or preference.
In his newest book, and in a free 5 page download, Wood explains in meticulous detail the reinterpretation of the word “arsenokoitēs.” In Paul’s letter to the Greeks, Paul’s condemnation of homosexuality is reinterpreted a condemnation of pederasty. In this case, Paul was referring to the illegal sexual abuse of prepubescent boys, which was at times the norm in Greece.
This new linguistic interpretation was validated and even commended by other leading experts in the field, including Dr. Chris Tilling of St. Mellitus College and author of “Paul’s Divine Christology”. Wood’s new book not only traces the sources of his linguistic discovery, but also explains how this new interpretation is more coherent with most of Paul’s other letters concerning the Law, homosexuality, and acceptance that spans across all cultures and all ages.
Although this interpretation does not redefine Paul’s personal views on homosexuality that he expressed in his letters, it does make vast strides culturally. In this sense, Paul explains to his audience that homosexuality is legal, but culturally unnatural. However, when put in context of the historical and cultural understanding, this “shameful” and “unnatural” act was viewed the same way as men having long hair, and as women not covering their heads during prayer. Just as various hairstyles and uncovered female heads are accepted into today’s churches, so should be homosexual couples. With this accurate and universal interpretation, no longer is there a law that prohibits these cultural norms.
The implications of this new discovery are staggering to the religious communities. This redefines the Jewish law that prohibits homosexuality based on this statement. It also invalidates Christian political beliefs that fight against equal marriage rights for gay couples. Within this context DOMA not only becomes unconstitutional, but also offensive to religious homosexuals.
I think it’s about time the interpretations of the Bible are revamped. As a practicing Roman Catholic and a supporter of gay rights, I find it very disheartening- almost disturbing- that people will claim that homosexuality is against their religion. The way that I was raised and educated was always to accept others, regardless of their differences. The most important rule, and the rule that has never been challenged as it spans across the centuries, is “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This love is unconditional and this love is universal. This love is not something that should be measured and given out based on any cultural, educational, sexual, or financial differences between the lover and the neighbor.
The Catholic church, in essence, should be a welcoming place for people of all walks of life- from different upbringing, from different places, from different values. The Catholic Church should welcome all kinds of families, regardless of the way the unit is made up. The Catholic Church implores its congregation to fight for human rights. Human rights that are not limited to those who share the same beliefs, the same cultures, or the same sexual orientations. The reinterpretation of Paul’s letters gives the Church an opportunity to redefine its values and open itself to a group of people who deserves love and respect equal to any other group of people that is welcomed in the church. I for one, personally hope to see a difference for the better. I hope to see a growth in love, a growth in acceptance, and a growth in equality.
To order Michael Wood’s book, or to view the 5 page explanation of Paul’s take on homosexuality, visit THIS SITE