Theory: Homosexuality/bisexuality of Paul of Tarsus

No doubt many Christians will condemn/hate the science of samesex procreation, as part of their condemnation/hatred of homosexuality in general. Which is ironic, since such Christians then have to condemn/hate the intellectual founder of Christianity, Paul of Tarsus. For most likely, Paul was sexually attracted to men, either bisexually or homosexually. From Saint Paul (and two of his colleagues in Christ, the lesbian couple Tryphaena and Tryphosa) through Saints Anselm and Aelred, through today's gay and lesbian priests, a foundational, but closeted, part of Christianity for two thousand years was, and still is, homosexuality.

Despite increasing scientific evidence of the naturalness of homosexuality, too many Christian churches refuse to embrace and offer acceptance. Which is again ironic, because an acceptance of homosexuality was part of Paul's message in his Letters, no doubt due in part to Paul desiring such acceptance for his sexuality. In the New Testament, for the few times the Paul talks about his sexuality, he writes some oddly worded passages:

So I find this law at work: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body , waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. ... So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. Romans 7:21-25
For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. Romans 7:5
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do - this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. Romans 7:15-20, very poetic gender confusion
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 2 Corinthians 12:7
... and last of all [Jesus] appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 1 Corinthians 15:8

So the fundamental question is, what is this thorny -- law of sin at work within [his] members that so tormented Paul, a biological torment unexplainable with his day's science ("I do not understand"), a torment he could only find relief by following Jesus? What about his body, his personality, was so "sinful" for the Jewish culture he grew up in and lived in, that made Jesus' more accepting philosophy more appealing? What abnormality was so troubling for the time?

John Wilkinson, in his 1980 book, "Health and Healing", has an entire chapter devoted to the metaphor of Paul's "thorn in the flesh", and concludes that this thorn, while never to be known, was a psychological weakness - "Its effect on him was debilitating and humiliating." Wilkinson tries to use other writings of Paul to determine what was so humiliating (he used a few pages to discuss Paul's mention of a temporary illness - "bodily ailment" - in Galatians 4:13). But with a cavalier few-line contempt, Wilkinson denies any possibility that this thorn is sexual in light of Paul's descriptions of his "sin at work within my members" in Romans 7 (with Wilkinson arguing that Paul addressed this issue in 1 Corinthians 7). And more unethically, the few other articles on Paul's thorn don't even reference his explicit bodily language of Romans 7 (i.e, in Thacker, Hisey, Mullins, etc.) On the other hand, Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, even without using the words of Romans 7, argues that Paul was gay.

Most likely, though, Paul identifies this "sin at work" , these "sinful passions", when in the very first words of his many Books and Letters that make up much of the New Testament, Romans, very early on in Romans (and just before his bodily sin descriptions in Romans 7), he writes:

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. ... Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men , and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion. Romans 1:24-27

That's right, the thorny -- law of sin at work within [his] members was his desire to degrade his body by commiting sexual acts with other men - Paul had either homosexual or bisexual desires. Show the above passages of Paul to psychologists, and I most will agree that Paul was talking about his homosexual or bisexual desires. And given the context of these passages, the only sin of his that Paul is complaining about is being bisexual. That is, Paul approved of both heterosexuality and homosexuality, but condemned the "excess" of bisexuality, with such excesses being contrary to the social laws of the time that emphasized procreation, social laws ( a man shall not LIE DOWN [i.e., have penetrative sex] with a man as he would LIE DOWN with [i.e., sexually penetrate] a woman, Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13) Paul could escape from by social laws of Jesus.

Paul lived in a Jewish culture that did not condemn homosexuality, but rather condemned penetrative sex than did not lead to procreation by wasting seed/sperm. Do two men or two women want to kiss, to hug, to caress, etc.? Such forms of homosexuality are not prohibited by Leviticus. Just those forms that lead to seed/sperm being wasted. The only interests of the small tribes of Jewish people of the Old Testament, surrounded by many cultures with much larger numbers of people, was to be as procreative as possible, which means not wasting seed/sperm. Being gay? No problem, except for those men with (or will have) a family who are wasting seed/sperm better used having children.

That the emphasis is on the wasting of seed/sperm can be evidenced in the fact that nowhere in the Old Testament laws that Paul is concerned about, nowhere are there condemnations of lesbian acts or lesbian relationships. Why? because no seed/sperm is being wasted. Theology professor Theodore Jennings argues in Jacob's Wound: Homoerotic Narrative in the Literature of Ancient Israel (2005) that indeed the Old Testament has a fair amount of homosexual eroticism mentioned without condemnation (such as David's relationships with both Saul and Jonathan, the shamanistic eroticism of Samuel and Saul and Elijah and Elisha, etc.).

Indeed, Paul seems with quite comfortable with lesbians, warmly greeting one lesbian couple in one of his letters. In Romans 16, Paul extends greetings to many missionary couples working for the Lord, mostly heterosexual couples. But in Romans 16:12, he writes:

Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, who have labored (or work hard) in the Lord.

As part of a list of other couples who live, work and travel together, it is legitimate to conclude that Tryphena and Tryphosa shared more than just many of the letters of their names, and in fact were a lesbian couple evangelizing for Jesus in a culture that had no commandments condemning lesbian acts.

John Boswell, in his book "Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality" writes (at page 109-111 [paperback verion]) that what Paul means by "abnormal" isn't a condemnation of homosexual acts by homosexuals, but rather is a criticism of heterosexuals engaging in homosexual acts:

What is even more important, the persons Paul condemns are manifestly not homosexual: what he derogates are homosexual acts committed by apparently heterosexual persons. The whole point of Romans I, in fact, is to stigmatize persons who have rejected their calling, gotten off the true path they were once on. ... There is, however, no clear condemnation of homosexual acts in [Romans 1] verses.

That is, heterosexuals acting heterosexually are on their true path of being procreative, not being sexually excessive, as are homosexuals acting homosexually (such as lesbian couples). It is only the bisexuals who are off the path. And one can see this in the actual Greek that Paul wrote in Romans 1, not in the deliberate mistranslations of very key terms in the passages. In particular, most modern day bibles translate this passage in Romans like the above quote, while the King James Version is closer to the actual Greek:

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, ... (KJV)

But the Greek word Paul uses for "against", "para", was used by Paul in many other passages to mean "in excess of", that is, Paul is not condemning homosexuals engaging in homosexual acts, but rather is condemning bisexual acts, i.e., people who have sex with both genders, since that is "in excess of" naturally having sex with just one gender. So the most honest way to end Romans 1:26 is by using the phrase "for what is in excess of nature", which no modern bibles honestly do. And this is the sin that Paul confesses is a "thorn in my flesh" - Paul was a sinner of excessive sexuality by being sexually attracted to both men and women - Paul was a bisexual (or as more neuroscience research is showing, supporting gay community cynicism, Paul as a bisexual was a homosexual half-way out of the closet).

Additionally, Paul is arguing that under many conditions, there is no sin at all in acting homosexually or bisexually. Romans 1:24-27 describe what God does to people who worship false idols, which can be seen in the greater passage of Romans 1:18-32:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. (1:18) ... Claiming to be wise, they became fools; and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles. (1:22-23).

So this is the real sin - people who worship false gods and suppress the truth of the True God. And this is important to God, because in the Old Testament, the Commandment "have no other gods" has the most death penalties - "BE PUT TO DEATH" - associated with this paramount rule of God. This was really really important to God, to earn so much of God's wrath that God repeatedly demanded that those worshipping false gods BE PUT TO DEATH - that God's "chosen" people must only believe in the Old Testament God:

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, BECAUSE THEY EXCHANGED THE TRUTH ABOUT GOD FOR A LIE AND WORSHIPED AND SERVED THE CREATURE RATHER THAN THE CREATOR, who is blessed forever. (1:24-25)

That is, if you worship false gods but are not PUT TO DEATH, the true God will cause you to act sexually in excess, to act bisexually. That is, for abandoning the true God to false gods, the true God forces them to give up their true sexuality for a false sexuality - to act in excess of their regular, heterosexuality:

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is in excess of nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, ... (1:26-27)

Thus someone is not sinning - is not a sinner - according to Paul's logic here in Romans, if they act solely homosexually while worshipping the true God. This raises the question - what happens in the case where you are homosexual but fear and worship the true God of the Old Testament? Paul's conditionals that leads upto 1:26-27 don't apply, which means this sexual language of Romans is not the main point of Romans - the main point is to not abandon the true god. There is no condemnation of homosexuality Romans 1, and Paul's personal sin that he confesses in Romans 7, what he finds "debilitating/humiliating" (Wilkinson), is acting sexual in excess, with his sexual attraction to men.

Further, Paul doesn't want people criticizing him or anyone else for being bisexual, because there is acceptance in Jesus, as he preaches in the beginning of the next chapter of Romans:

Therefore you have no excuse, O man, whoever you are, when you judge another [like me Paul]; for in passing judgment upon him you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. (Romans 2:1)

One can see a yearning in Paul to be more socially acceptable - don't we all yearn for this? And Paul felt he could realize this through Jesus. The problem is that Paul introduces one of the big contradictions of Christianity, when he declares the old laws are no longer fully in force, which contradicts Jesus explicitly stating that the old laws are still in force. Arrogant thing for Paul to do, since he never met Jesus. But understandable if it is part of Paul's efforts to be more socially acceptable. So when Paul states:

Do you not know, brethren - for I am speaking to those who know the law - that the law is binding on a person only during his life? .... Likewise, my brethren, you have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, ... But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit. Romans 7:1,4,6
Paul is wrongly contradicting Jesus:
"Do not think that I [Jesus] have come to abolish the Law ... I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the law until everything is accomplished ... whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:17-19.
Jesus not changing the law is fully consistent with a very specific command of God, which Paul wrongly contradicts:
You shall not add to the word which I command you, nor take from it; that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I have commanded you. Deuteronomy 4:2

Thus, we see Paul struggling, even contradicting Jesus and God, with natural legitimate sexual feelings (in light of today's science) in an era of biological ignorance where such feelings with conflicted with demands for men to have children - to be procreative. It is abhorrent then to see Paul's word being distorted to support hatred for homosexuals.

Some indirect evidence of Paul's sexual attraction to men? One of the marketing gimmicks that early Christians borrowed from earlier cults/religion was that of the "virgin birth", a mystery that devoted followers would strongly publicize - like Paul. But Paul doesn't mention Jesus' virgin birth. After all, virginity in a woman is impressive to a heterosexual man who wants to be first to plant his "seed" in women, which is why Jesus' apostles mention the virgin birth so much. But to a bi/homosexual man like Paul, who probably rarely thought of women in a sexual way, virginity isn't interesting, even if associated with Jesus.

Since the ethical foundations of Christianity are much based on Paul's Books and Letters in the New Testament (in which he changes Jesus' messages, arrogant since Paul never met Jesus, seen in the near complete absence of tales of Jesus' life in Paul's letters), much of the ethical foundations of Christianity are based on the mind of a bi/homosexual man. Until Christians openly examine and accept the bi/homosexuality of Paul, they should stop preaching the hatred and ignorance of homosexuals, and stop using Paul's words to hate and condemn homosexuals. And Christians should stop lying about the Old Testament, for example, that the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is about God punishing people for having homosexual relations, since the story has nothing to do with homosexuality:

Now this was the sin of your sister [city] Sodom: she and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and the needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. Ezekiel 16:49-50

The use of "haughty" and "detestable" is a Hebraic literary reference to, a reemphasis of, "arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and the needy" - "detestable" has nothing to do with sexuality. The crime of Sodom's people is not helping those in need. And ethically, the only crime in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is God destroying all the people in both cities, instead of sending some angels to reeducate them.

Frankly, none of this Biblical language should be binding on anyone today. The Biblical language relies on the use of ancient Greek words whose meaning is not exactly understood today, words used by people whose knowledge of the human mind and body is in many cases false. They wrote rules for themselves - fine. So too can we write rules for ourselves, based on our knowledge of science of the human body, and using our languages and our less hateful ethics. Especially when Jesus himself did not speak much about these issues.

This acceptance of homosexuality and heterosexuality, but not always bisexuality, was shared by other church leaders and saints. Boswell writes at page 156 of his book:

[Saint] Chrysostom ... [denounced] homosexual acts for not providing pleasure: "Sins against nature ... are more difficult and less rewarding, so much so that they cannot even claim to provide pleasure, since real pleasure is only in accordance with nature." Like Paul, [Saint Chrysostom] alleged that immoral homosexual acts arose not from "perversion" but from excess of desire (i.e., not as a replacement for heterosexual outlets but in addition to them).

Indeed, homosexual behavior was rampant in Christian Church leaders for centuries following Jesus, with a variety of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Catholic saints. Catholic saint John Chrysostom (whose writings flamed hatred of, and crimes against, Jews for centuries), in his book Adversus oppugnatores vitae monasticae (circa 400 AD), writes of this acceptance:

Those very people who have been nourished by godly doctrine, who instruct others in what they ought and ought not do [i.e., church leaders], who have heard the Scriptures brought down from heaven, these do not consort with [female] prostitutes as fearlessly as they do with younog men. The fathers of the young men take this in silence: they do not try to sequester their sons; nor do they seek any remedy for this evil.

None [of these church leaders] is ashamed, no one blushes, but, rather, they take pride in their little game; the chaste seem to be the odd ones, and the disapproving the ones in error. If these disapprovers are insignificant, they are intimidated; if they are powerful, they are mocked, laughed at, refuted with a thousand arguments. The courts are powerless, the laws, instructors, parents, friends, teachers - all are helpless.

If any avoid such practices they will find it difficult to escape the bad reputation of those involved, first of all because they are very few and will be easily lost in the great throng of the evil livers ... Indeed, ... there is some danger that womankind will become unnecessary in the future, with young men instead fulfilling all the needs women used to ... (from "Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality" by John Boswell, page 131).

Six hundred years later, Christian church leaders are still writing about rampant homosexual behavior by priests. Saint Peter Damian complains, in his Book of Gomorrah (1051 AD) of priests having sex with each other, and getting away with it by confessing to other gay priests. So upset by this behavior, he writes: "Absolutely no other vice can be reasonably compared with this one, which surpasses all others in uncleanness. ...". He does not however, offer much in the way of Biblical or church writings to justify his hostility towards priests having sex with each other. (see again, Boswell, page 211). Indeed, in response to Damian's complaints, Pope Leo IX writes in his We More Humanely (1051), that occasional homosexual and/or masturbation behavior by priests is alright if they make amends:

... yet we, acting more humanely, desire and ordain that those who elicited their seed either with their own hands or mutually with someone else, and even those who spilled it interfemorally, if it was not a long-standing practice or performed with many men and if they have restrained their desires and atoned for these shameful sins with a suitable penance, should be admitted to the same rank which they held while in sin (though they must no longer remain so), trusting in divine mercy. (from "Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality" by John Boswell, page 366).

Indeed, 50 years later, another pope, Pope Urban II, had no problem with homosexual bishops being appointed. Boswell writes in his book (page 213) of a church power squabble in France:

Ivo [of Chartres, a church leader] informed the papal legate and the pope himself that Ralph, the archbishop of Tours, had prevailed upon the king of France to install as bishop of Orleans a certain John, whom Ivo knew to be the archbishop's lover (and to have had sexual relations with the king, since the latter had boasted of it to Ivo). In fact John had also shared his favors with the previous bishop of Orleans (Ralph's brother), was generally so accommodating with his person that he was popularly known as Flora, in reference to a celebrated courtesan of the day. ... In spite [of these complaints], Pope Urban II declined to take any action whatsoever against the election of Ralph's [homosexual] lover, who was consecrated [a bishop] on March 1, 1098.

Some years earlier, another noted Catholic Church leader, Saint Anselm of Bec (later to be archbishop of Canterbury) writes one of the gayest of gay letters to his lover that even brings blushes to gay men today (or heterosexual men thinking about their favorite stripper):

Brother Anselm to Dom Gilbert, brother, friend, beloved lover ... sweet to me, sweetest friend, are the gifts of your sweetness, but they cannot begin to console my desolate heart for its want of your love. Even if you sent every scent of perfume, every glitter of metal, every precious gem, every texture of cloth, still it could not make up to my soul for this separation unless it returned the separated other half.

The anguish of my heart just thinking about this bear witness, as do the tears dimming my eyes and wetting my face and the fingers writing this.

You recognized, as I do now, my love for you, but I did not. Our separation from each other has shown me how much I loved you; a man does not in fact have knowledge of good and evil unless he has experienced both. Not having experienced your absence, I did not realize how sweet it was to be with you and how bitter to be without you.

But you have gained from our very separation the company of someone else, whom you love no less - or even more - than me; while I have lost you, and there is no one to take your place. You are enjoying your consolation, while nothing is left to be but heartbreak. (from "Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality" by John Boswell, page 218).

William Naphy, in his book Born To Be Gay (page 97), writes of Saint Anselm's support for homosexuality as part of his time's general acceptance: "Thus, we see the Council of London (1102) specifically requiring that sodomy be confessed as a sin. Interestingly, Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, simply refused to publish the decree, noting in a letter to one of his friends: 'This sin has hitherto been so public that hardly anyone is embarrassed by it, and may have therefore fallen into it because they were unaware of its seriousness.'" And around this time, circa the 1100s, confession was done only once, on your deathbed.

Indeed, the most out-in-the-open homosexual priest of that era (circa 1140), Saint Aelred, abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Rievaulx, who had multiple male lovers in his lifetime, writes in his book De speculo caritatis about the "gay marriage" of Jesus and the "disciple whom Jesus loved" ("One of his disciples, whom Jesus loved, was lying close to the breast of Jesus; ... So, lying thus, close to the breast of Jesus, he said to [Jesus], "Lord, who is it [who will betray you]?", John 13:23-25 (RSV):

We can enjoy this in the present with those whom we love not merely with our minds but with our hearts; for some are joined to us more intimately and passionately than others in the lovely bond of spiritual friendship. And lest this sort of sacred [homosexual] love should seem improper to anyone, Jesus himself, in everything like us, patient and compassionate with us in every matter, transfigured it through the expression of his own love: for he allowed on, not all, to recline on his breast as a sign of his special love, so that the virgin head was supported in the flowers of the virgin breast, and the closer they were, the more copiously did the fragrant secrets of the heavenly marriage impart the sweet smell of spiritual chrism to their virgin love.

Although all the disciples were blessed with the sweetness of the greatest love of he most holy master, nonetheless he conceded as a privilege to one alone this symbol of a more intimate love, that he should be called the "disciple whom Jesus loved". (from "Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality" by John Boswell, page 226).

Not surprisingly, none of this about Catholic Saint Aelred is mentioned in the entry for Aelred in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Of course, some argue that the Beloved Disciple in the book of John is a woman, that Jesus had a lover. That Jesus probably had sex with women is seen in another mistranslated passage in the New Testament:

And certain women [also travelled with Jesus], which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils. And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him [Jesus] of their substance. Luke 8:2-3, King James Version

Now the Greek meaning of "their substance" is "their physical body", i.e., these women were ministering their physical bodies unto Jesus, which is a very polite way of having sex. To lie about Jesus' sex life, modern bibles instead use "their own means", "their resources", "their private means", and "their property".

As John Boswell notes in another book, "Same-Sex Unions in PreModern Europe", around this time (1100s), many Christian churches throughout Europe had ceremonies for blessing same-sex unions/marriages. On page 312, he lists one such ceremonial blessing for 1147 AD, which includes the following two prayers to bless the men being joined:

(first prayer) O Lord our God, Ruler of all, who didst fashion humankind after thine image and likeness, and bestowed upon us power of everlasting life, who didst deem it meet that thy holy apostles Philip and Bartholoew, should be united, not bound unto one other by law of nature but in the manner of a holy spirit and faith, as Thou didst also [bless the joining together of] thy holy martyrs Serge and Baachus in union of spirit. Send down, most kind Lord, the grace of thy Holy Spirit upon these thy servants, who thou hast found worthy to be united not by nature but by faith and a holy spirit. Grant unto them thy grace to love each other in joy without injury or hatred all the days of their lives, with the aid of the all-holy Mother of God and of all the saints, forasmuch as thou art blessed and glorified everywhere, now and forever.

(second prayer) O Lord our God, who didst command us to love one another and to forgive each other's failings, do Thou, Ruler and most kind lover of good, [bless and consecrate] these thy servants who love each other with a love of the soul and have come into thy holy church to be blessed. Grant unto them unashamed fidelity, sincere love, and as Thou didst vouchsafe unto thy holy disciples and apostles thy peace and love, so also bestow on these servants of thine all things needed for salvation. For to Thee belong all glory, honor and worship. Then shall they kiss the holy Gospel and the priest and one other, and he shall dismiss them, saying: The Lord of peace and love be with you. Amen.

A nice set of wedding prayers for homosexuals, at the time of the end of the first 1000 years of Christianity. It is not until the late Middle Ages, with the coming of the Inquisition, the beginning of persecutions of Jews that would lead to unspeakable crimes for centuries, and other intellectual retreats of Christian Europe, that deep hostility of homosexuality infected Christianity for the next thousand years. But it is undeniable - to those who most closely knew Jesus - those that lived in his times, or lived in the centuries that followed - one thing is clear:

Hatred of homosexuals and homosexuality is not of Jesus.
To hate people who are homosexual, and love so, is to betray Jesus' love.

One more thing about Paul. He is often accused of being a misogynist because of misogynist women-hating writings of the New Testament, especially the rather evil 1 Corinthians 14:33-35 "As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in churches. They are not allowed to speak ... If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church". To be fair to Paul, the woman-hating, misogynistic writings in Paul's letters (blindly followed by too many Christians today) were actually not written by Paul, and therefore not the words of Jesus. The New Testament's hatred of women has nothing to do with Jesus or Paul, who much more advocated equality between men and women.

Even the Vatican secretly celebrates the power of women. The most holy building in Rome is the Basilica of Saint Peter. Inside the church is the most holy altar in Catholicism, the Papal Altar, so holy that only the Pope is allowed to touch it. Covering the altar is the five-story bronze canopy, the Baldacchino, supported by four columns. And what is carved on the outward-facing sides of the bases of the columns? Eight carvings of a woman going through pregnancy, each with a small woman's face atop a large vagina.

No, the misogynistic words were put in Paul's mouth, so to speak, by French Bishop Irenaeus who lived 100 years after Jesus. Irenaeus wrote a massive book, "Against Heresies" in which he attacked his Gnostic rivals. Now the Gnostics were known for supporting female equality (Gnostic women preached, baptized, etc.), so when Iranaeus "found" the Books of the four Apostles and Paul's letters (100 years after Jesus, Irenaeus was the first Christian to find/mention(/invent?) such books), it was easy for Irenaeus to further attack Gnostics by adding woman-hating, misogynistic words to Paul's letters (doubly unethical since Paul's letters had much of a Gnostic flair to them). And there is a good chance that anything attributed to Irenaeus is unreliable

So Christians should stop distorting what Paul said to then justify their hatred of homosexual relationships, and completely ignore any misogynistic hatred wrongly attributed to him by Irenaeus. 2000 years later, society still suffers from this written hatred.

For more on lies involving Paul, see Paul's Bungling Attempt at Sounding Pharisaic, and Problems with Paul Pretending to be a Pharisee. And all of these arguments assumes that Paul wasn't the fictional creation of some 2th century writer.

An interesting history of how hating homosexuality was invented by religions, including Paul's writings. See also Distortions of the Bible to Attack Homosexuality. Finally, never fully trust any Bible that uses the word "homosexual", since the word didn't exist when the Bible was written, and instead was invented in 1869 by German writer Karl-Maria Kertbeny.

Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, in his book "The Letters of Paul" (Riverhead Books, 1998), in the Preface section, offers a such theory on the homosexuality of Saint Paul. Maybe if Christians were more honest about homosexuality, today we would not be plagued by way too many closeted gay-bashing political conservative homosexuals.

Preface: an external and internal introduction to Paul, the architect of Christianity

.... Paul's parents, according to Luke in the Book of Acts, gave to their son the Hebrew name Saul. It was a name with a double meaning. .... the name "Saul" was still honored among the people of Israel and most especially among the people of the tribe of Benjamin for whom it always projected an impressive image.

There was, however, another side to this name, apparent in the Greek-speaking world, that made it somewhat difficult. The Greek language had the word saulos, an adjective, that carried with it the connotation of effeminacy. ....

Unfortunately, Paul's physical appearance seemed to make him more susceptible to the "saulos" connotation of his name than to the King Saul image. ....

We still must note, to be certain that it is registered, that nowhere in the Pauline corpus does Paul ever use any name but Paul. ....

Paul fought vigorously to keep his churches from being dragged back into the legalism of Judaism, which was, in his mind, a compromise of the gospel's integrity. ....

For this gospel and in the service of this Lord, Paul was quite content to give his life, his energy and his devotion. ....

That is a brief description of the external Paul. But what did this Christian revelation look like internally to him? .... We need to penetrate the mystery of Paul's zeal, his persecution of the Christians and his violent conversion. .... So into the psyche of Paul I know seek to go, led to the degree that it is possible by his own words, building on an inference here and a hint there. ....

I see the young Paul as a religious zealot. ....

Religious fanaticism, properly understood, is a means and a method of survival. It is a public proclamation that the person you are is so insignificant, or that the person you know yourself to be is so unacceptable, that you have hidden from your fears inside the protective armor of a religious frame of reference. .... They are almost robotlike in their religious adherence. .... One has to wonder what it was that made obedience to and control by the external authority of the law so essential to the survival of this man. ....

.... Sin, he believed, could be controlled only by the law. His was a religion of suppression. Something unacceptable within himself had to be contained. That is the prescription for a zealotry that produces religious rigidity - for there to be a threat to that control system is the primary requirement that will turn such a one into a zealous persecutor. Each of these elements is in Paul. .... The mentality of the persecutor is born in this psychological makeup. If fits Paul of Tarsus to a T. ....

The suggestions [to what drove Paul] throughout history have abounded. ....

There is only one theory that accounts for the evidence and that is that there was something that Paul experienced in his being itself, which he deemed to be dark, evil, unacceptable, imposed upon him from outside himself, unresponsive to his own efforts to cast it off and therefore requiring a rigid control lest it overwhelm him. .... So I invite my readers to consider the possibility that Paul was a homosexual man who believed that this was an affliction imposed upon him that had to be repressed if it could not be changed. ....

His desires, when he allowed them to surface, were not what he had been taught were acceptable. .... Paul knew that his synagogue leaders would also find the subject anathema, for that is the way they had talked about it in the classes on the Torah. The Torah condemned in no uncertain terms the possibility that a man might like to "lie with a man as with a woman". That was "an abomination" (Lev. 18:22). Those who did these things were "defiled" (Lev. 18:24). When God punished the nation for these sins, the land "vomited out" these inhabitants (Lev. 18:25). The Torah went on to pronounce both of the partners in such a liason to be worthy of death (Lev. 20:13). ....

Paul, I suspect, was horrified by his feelings. ....

Today, we know that [homosexuality] is the reality of at least some five to ten percent of the population at all times and in all places throughout human history. But that knowledge was not available to Paul. .... [I] am certain that Paul was scared, even horrified by the realization that he was experiencing desire for something he had been taught to regard as so totally evil. .... He would, therefore, do battle against this evil impulse with every resource his religion offered to him. This, I would wager, is what motivated Paul into a passion for the law. .... In that state, the law he honored and whose authority he accepted, judged him as one who was, in fact, not worthy of life. .... Perhaps this is why he adopted a frenzied devotion to the traditions of the law and reinforced them by claiming literal truth for every aspect of his faith system. Paul was on his way to being a fanatic. ....

This stance won him the recognition of his schoolmasters and synagogue leaders. They approved of and praised him for his devotion. .... I suspect he externalized his control system as so many religious fanatics do by dressing himself in the most conservative attire of the tradition he represented. .... Describing himself in this period Paul wrote: "You have heard no doubt of my earlier life in Judaism ... I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors (Gal. 1:13-14).

.... Whatever the motivation, it is almost always the mark of religious zealots to be enraged when their systems are shaken.

... If he was wrong, his entire security system would collapse, and he would have to deal with whatever it was that this security system was keeping deeply hidden and deeply suppressed.

That was quite clearly the threat that those Jewish people who responded to Jesus of Nazareth created for Paul. .... God did not require that they perfect themselves according to the words of the Torah. It was a deeply disturbing claim. ....

On some level, however, this Christianity must also have been just a little bit attractive. .... to cause Paul to identify the Christians as a threat to all he cherished. If they succeeded, Paul would fail. If they were right, Paul was wrong. If they prevailed, Paul would be destroyed.

The hints of why Paul felt this so deeply are all over his epistles. .... Paul said, "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate ... But in fact it is no longer that I do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells within me that is in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it." (Rom 7:15ff). ....

Paul goes on to use both a word and a phrase that are equally revealing. This sin, he asserts, dwells in my "members" (Rom. 7:23). The Greek word used here is "melos", which means a bodily part or an appendage of the body. His members, he argues, will not obey his mind. There is only one bodily part or appendage of the body which does not obey the mind, and that is the genitalia. .... "Nothing good dwells within me, that is in my flesh", he stated (Rom 7:18). .... "I punish my own body and subdue it." (1 Cor. 9:27). ....

The Christians, to Paul, loosened the control that kept what he described as "these fears within" in check (2 Cor. 7:5). .... Like many deeply controlled and repressed gay people after him, he struck out to persecute and to remove those whose existence threatened to destroy his facade. .... "I violently persecuted the church of God and was trying to destroy it." (Gal. 1:13). ....

A persecuting personality is revelatory of deep psychological conflict. A violent conversion is revelatory of that conflict coming to an unanticipated resolution.

What does Paul say that gives us a clue to that conversion? He tell us nothing about a Damascus Road experience. He never mentions Ananias, who, Luke suggested, tended him and baptized him. All of these stories are narratives that Luke created some thirty-plus years after Paul's death. Paul had no chance to speak about their authenticity. .... He does assert that sin no longer dwells in his body to make him obey its passions (Rom. 6:12). He does proclaim that once his "members" were slaves to impurity, but now they are slaves to righteousness (Rom. 6:19). ....

Luke later, I suspect, took these hints from Paul and created the drama of the Damascus Road experience. It was, I believe, psychologically, if not literally, accurate. ....

The inner turmoil was resolved. Paul was set free, not from essential nature, but from the judgment, the self-loathing, the rejection, the death the he assumed was his deserving. He was now free to live, free to love and free to be, because "Christ has made me his own" (Phil. 3:12).

The passage of Paul that drives me so powerfully to this conclusion is found in that part of the Pauline corpus that modern literalists, seeking to justify their fear and rejection of homosexual persons, quote as one of the scriptual justifications for their continuing prejudice. These are the deeply revealing versus found in the opening lines of Paul's epistle to the Romans (1:18-32). .... "Therefore", Paul continued, "God gave them [i.e. the Romans] up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error." (Rom. 1:26-27)

Paul, we noted earlier, had never been to Rome. .... These verses are, I believe, indicative of Paul's inner struggle, which led him finally to assert, "Wretched man that I am, who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Rom. 7:24-25). ....

The only thing that makes sense out of Paul's fanatical life as a Torah-observing Jew, his time as a persecutor, his violent conversion and the ectasy of his understanding of what it means to live his life "in Christ", is that Paul was possessed by what he believed was an inner demon. ....

One only thing seems to me fit the known data. .... Nothing else fits the data in my mind nearly so well as the possibility, I would say probability, that Paul was a gay man. He was a gay man who had been taught by the Torah to hate homosexual people, who believed that being homosexual was a distortion of the image of God within him and that it resulted from improper worship. .... Nothing else make sense of a conversion experience so total that Paul never wanted the law again to corrupt the freedom that he had found in Jesus of Nazareth. ....

It was, I believe, a repressed gay man named Paul of Tarsus who had been taught by his religion and his society to hate what he knew he was, who ultimately gave to the Christian faith its concept of grace, as the undeserved, unmerited love of God found in Jesus of Nazareth.

Note: Spong is a bit of a hypocrite here because Irenaeus, putting words into Paul's mouth, also gave the world the love of misogyny, a hatred of women that has plagued the Christian world for 2000 years, a hatred Spong is silent about. Spong makes up for this a bit in his 2007 book, "Jesus for the Non Religious", in which he argues that most of the New Testament is historically false and that modern Christianity ignores the deep Jewish basis of Jesus' Christianity.

Old Testament commandments to only worship one God, or be PUT TO DEATH. (E = Exodus, L = Leviticus, N = Numbers, D = Deuteronomy).

D 13:1-5  If a prophet [or dream interpreter] ... and he says "Let us
          follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us
          worship them", ... That prophet or dreamer MUST BE PUT TO DEATH
D 13:6-10 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the
          wife you love, or your closet friend secretly entices you,
          saying, "Let us go worship other gods." ... You must
          certainly PUT HIM TO DEATH.
          Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and
          then the hands of all the people MUST STONE HIM TO DEATH,
D 17:4,5  If it is true [a man or woman has worshiped other gods] and
          it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done
          in Israel, take the man or woman who has done this evil deed 
          to your city gate and STONE THAT PERSON TO DEATH.
D 6:14    Do not follow other gods ... [God] will DESTROY YOU FROM THE
D 18:20   But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have
          not commanded him to say [how do you prove so?], or a prophet
          who speaks in the name of other gods, MUST BE PUT TO DEATH.
E 22:20   Anyone who sacrifices to any god other than the Lord
L 20:2    Any [person] in Israel who sacrifices any of his children
          to Molech [another god] MUST BE PUT TO DEATH.
          The people of the community are to stone him.
L 20:27   A man or a woman who is a medium or spiritist among you
          You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.
L 27:29   No person devoted to destruction [of objects to be dedicated
          to God] may be ransomed; he MUST BE PUT TO DEATH.
N 25:4,5  The Lord said to Moses: "Take all the leaders of these people
          [who worshipped the Baal of Peor], KILL THEM ... So Moses said
          to Israel's judges: "Each of you  MUST PUT TO DEATH
          those of your men who have joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor.
N 25:16-18  The Lord said unto Moses, "Treat the Midianites [whose
          women seduced Israeli men to make sacrifices to other gods]
          as enemies and KILL THEM, because they treated you as enemies
          when they decieved you in the affair of Peor and their sister
          Cozbi, ...
N 31:15-18  "Have you allowed the women [of Midian captured in war
          after all of the men of Midian were PUT TO DEATH] to live?",
          [Moses] asked them. ... Now KILL all the boys.  And KILL
          every woman who has slept with a man, [but keep the
          32,000 {v. 35} virgins].