A prominent evangelical Christian from the UK believes the historic artwork shows that the Bible isn't actually condemning homosexuality.
By
Michaela Morgan

24 Jul 2017 - 12:54 PM  UPDATED 24 Jul 2017 - 12:54 PM

A British Baptist minister and activist says that the erotic frescos found in the ash-preserved towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum are an important tool in contextualising Bible passages. 

Rev. Steve Chalke refers to some of the “clobber passages” found in the Bible that are used as ammunition against the queer community in a video produced by his organisation, Oasis Open Church Network.

“Biblical studies—in as far as they’ve been used in a weaponising way—to destroy LGBT people, and their lives and their credibility and their sense of peace,” Chalke says.

“In as far as New Testament and Old Testament verses have been used in this way, not only are they wrong but actually, they lag a long way far behind true Biblical understanding and studies.”

The eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79AD perfectly preserved the Roman towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum and with it, pornographic images that show how the upper classes used sex as a tool against those who served them.

“In Rome sex was an important thing,” says Chalke.

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“If you were a man you were expected to have sexual playthings apart from your wife. Your wife was to pass on the family line but you would have a mistress, a concubine, a boy that you would have sex with as well and all of that was expected.

“It was normal, it wasn't frowned upon and it was written about. But what you weren't allowed to do, under any circumstance, was to have sex with another Roman. Roman citizens were protected.

“You could only have sex with someone of a lesser status, with a slave or a gladiator.”

Chalke explains that this was the world in which Paul and other New Testament writers were condemning men who have sex with men.

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“The New Testament has nothing to say about same-sex relationships,” Chalke says.

“None of this [Paul's writings] is about relationships at all. It's about the use and abuse of another person for an act of pleasure and it's right from the artwork and pictures that we now have from Pompeii. 

“Don’t exploit. Don’t abuse. Live together in harmony. Include. Work at relationships.”

Chalke says passages in the Bible that mention same-sex relations are in fact being critical of abuse and greed, and not homosexuality directly.

“The people Paul is talking about, he said they’ve abandoned God, they’re full of deceit, lying,” Chalke told HuffPost.

“Whoever Paul is talking about, it cannot be the wonderful same-sex couples that are in our church, or the gay man or the transgender woman I know. It just can’t be them.” 

“Our poor understanding of the New Testament has brought misery, persecution, oppression and rejection to countless hundreds of thousands and millions of LGBT people,” Chalke said.

“It’s time to apologise for the mistakes we’ve made and move on.”