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December 27, 2010, Bronx, New York
www.othersheep.org; email: sparelli2002@yahoo.com

Prepared for Trivandrum Theological Forum (TTF), Trivandrum, Kerala, India
TTF website:  www.ttftupm.webs.com; TTF email:  ttftvpm@yahoo.co.in
Excerpts

Sexual traditions of India suppressed by British colonizers

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which makes it a crime to engage in “carnal
intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal”, and
which was read down by the Delhi High Court judgment in the Naz Foundation v.
Union of India on 2 July, 2009, so that gay sex between consenting adults was
decriminalized, was originally “drafted by Lord Macaulay and enacted in 1860
during British colonial rule.”  

In the years leading up to the 2009 Naz decision, the Ministry of Home Affairs of
the Government of India, in its 2003 affidavit supporting the retention of Section
377, argued that the law “was brought under the statute as an act of criminality
[because] it responded to the values and mores of the time [1860] in the Indian
society,” to which the petitioners, in their reply to the court, countered by saying
Section 377 evinced only “the British Judeo-Christian values of the time.”  

Ruth Vanita and Saleem  Kidwai, in their book
Same-Sex Love in India:  A Literary
History, provide an invaluable anthology of Indian writings from ancient times to
the present on the subjects of  the love of a man for a man, and of a women for a
women.  Robert Goldman  calls the collection “a powerful corrective to the often
expressed opinion that the Indian tradition is either unaware of or openly hostile to
same-sex love.”

According to Dr. George Nalunnakkal of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox
Church, “India’s traditional silence on ‘sexuality’ is nothing but a celebrated myth.  
In fact, the Indian mind had always engaged sexuality in a very open and radical
manner.  It was, in fact, the colonizers who had brought to India their ‘values’ and
ethos, which suppressed the Indian tradition.”

According to Dr. George Nalunnakkal of the Malankara Jacobite Syrian Orthodox
Church, “India’s traditional silence on ‘sexuality’ is nothing but . . .

The problem is how we read the Bible

“The ‘problem,’ of course, is not the Bible, it is the Christians who read it. . . . No
credible case against homosexuality or homosexuals can be made from the Bible,”
says Peter Gomes, “unless one chooses to read Scripture in a way that sustains
the existing prejudice against homosexuality and homosexuals.”  

As a young man in my early teens, I was conditioned to think a certain way – to
think Biblically. I would attend church three or more times a week.  On a daily
basis I would engage myself in . . .

Against Nature – Romans 1:26, 27

The second major critical thought I remember having at some later point in time
was this:  The only way Romans 1:18-32 could be about me was if I were to read
the chapter backwards,  beginning with verses 26 and 27,  the “against nature”
part.


Sodom and Gomorrah – Genesis 19

Dale Martin, in his book Sex and the Single Savior, says that in interpreting
Biblical texts, “we read [them] certain ways because we are socialized to do so; . .
. we read [them] differently on a second reading because we ourselves have been
(socially!) changed in the meantime.”    

The now somewhat popular “second reading” of the Biblical account of Sodom
and Gomorrah, a paradigm shift witnessed in my own life time, from the traditional
“Sodomy” interpretation to the “inhospitality”  interpretation (cf. Mark 6:7-11) is a
striking example of the fact that different “social and psychological constraints”  
were evidently brought to bear on this text.  Michael Carden, in his book
Sodomy:
A History of a Christian Biblical Myth
, says “my engagement with the texts will not
pretend any dispassion.”  Gay theologians, having brought their queer selves to
the Sodom and Gomorrah story, have concluded, and widely published, that the
sin of Sodom (cf. Ezekiel 16:49 ) was “oppression and injustice, not sexual sin”
[emphasis mine].  

The paper also speaks to the following headings:

  • The lyings down of a woman – Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13
  • Malakoi and arsenokoitai – I Corinthians 6:8-10 and I Timothy 1:10
  • There is no biblical sex ethic; only a love ethic
  • Purity codes and Outcasts
  • The need to belong
  • The reign of God on earth
Sub-headings of the paper
  • Sexual traditions of India
    suppressed by British
    colonizers
  • The problem is how we read
    the Bible
  • Against Nature –
    Romans 1:26, 27
  • Sodom and Gomorrah –
    Genesis 19
  • The lyings down of a
    woman – Leviticus 18:22
    and 20:13
  • Malakoi and
    arsenokoitai – I
    Corinthians 6:8-10 and I
    Timothy 1:10
  • There is no biblical sex ethic;
    only a love ethic
  • Purity codes and Outcasts
  • The need to belong
  • The reign of God on earth
Rev Steve Parelli,
Lumut, Malaysia
August 19, 2009
 
Photo by Steve Parelli
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    The paper proper is footnoted.  
    Footnotes are not shown here in these excerpts.