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Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

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  • Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

    Out of curiosity, I was searching different viewpoints on the undisclosed "thorn" in Paul's side and came across this argument. Could the "thorn" in his side been his struggle with being homosexual? The writer makes an interesting and somewhat convincing argument. The person making this case sets the stage with the backdrop that Paul was a pretty emotional guy, perhaps overly emotional. Here are some excerpts. There's much more to this but here is the Reader's Digest version....

    In his letter to the Romans he talks about being a prisoner of the law of sin in his body - "…I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members” (Romans 7:23).

    In 2 Cor 12:7 he talks about "a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me". Some people think that was vision loss, others think malaria, and some others assume it was epilepsy. How would those physical ailments be messengers of Satan? They don't act as agents of temptation.

    In the opening chapter of Romans, Paul describes those he sees as the enemies of God as being confused sexually as a punishment for their sins. In his letter, he says that “God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error” (Romans 1:26). Could this be construed as what we call today "homophobia"?

    Paul also takes somewhat of a negative view of women and marriage. He writes “it is good for a man not to touch a woman” (1 Corinthians 7:1). Paul was not married as he directly states when he gives these instructions to the unmarried and widows: “But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I” (1 Corinthians 1:8). Marriage is seen by Paul as a last resort for weak individuals in the next passage, “But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (1 Corinthians 1:9).

    Now that we have considered this array of clues from Paul’s writings, it becomes important to finish addressing the passage with which we began our study. We return to the “war” in Paul’s “members.” This war in his members may have even been connected to the “thorn in his flesh” that served as a “messenger of Satan.” Whether or not these concepts are connected, the question still remains… What part of the body will not obey the “law of the mind”? Without being crude, the answer is a somewhat obvious one when considering the anatomy of a male. Arms, legs, and the like can be controlled by the mind. But, there remains a member that often is not so easily controlled by the mind. It is to this member that I believe Paul was referring. And considering the other segments we have examined, I also believe that Paul was in fact a repressed gay individual. While this cannot be proven, it does seem one of the few answers that properly fits the questions raised by the evidence. If Paul was a gay man, a drastic rereading of Scripture would be demanded in light of such a discovery.
    I know what I know
    I know what I don't know
    I don't know what I don't know.

  • #2
    Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

    Paul tells us that the "thorn" was given to him for one reason: to prevent him from becoming prideful from the abundance of divine revelations given to him.:

    This boasting will do no good, but I must go on. I will reluctantly tell about visions and revelations from the Lord.
    I was caught up to the third heaven fourteen years ago. Whether I was in my body or out of my body, I don’t know—only God knows.
    Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body. But I do know that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell. That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, Even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.
    (2 Cor 12:7 NLT)

    Here's the thing: Satan loves it when people exalt themselves. Pride and arrogance make individuals who are useful to him more predictable and easier to manipulate as he prompts them to do things to his advantage. God however, hates these characteristics, which run contrary to the reverence and worship He requires in His servants. It is those who are without pride and arrogance that God calls to be a part of His kingdom. So then, when we consider that the purpose of the thorn was to prevent pride, it clearly served God's purposes, and worked against satan, demonstrating its divine origin.

    Since the thorn came from God, if one purports that it was homosexuality, one is obliged to assert that God Himself imposed that perverse mindset on Paul. Would God instill in the mind of one of His servants a deviant sexuality that He clearly and emphatically condemns? Is he ambivalent about such deviance being an inward part of his servants? Even if the perverse thinking was actually prompted by satan, God would still have had to consent, making him complicit in that which is contrary to His nature.

    Furthermore, this idea infers that God put temptation in Paul's path, even though Scripture clearly states that God does not tempt (James 1:13). A person struggling against homosexuality faces temptation 24/7. Such temptation and deviant mindset would obviously be a hindrance to the work of Paul's ministry. It would keep his mind on carnal desires rather than heavenly things, and would be counterproductive to his preaching righteousness and freedom from sin--whether in the body or in the mind. How could Paul preach about freedom from the bondage of sin when he himself was in bondage, and struggling so desperately against sin?

    God delivers individuals from spiritual bondage and deviance. Does God shackle us with chains that enslave our minds, or does he break those chains asunder? It has to be one or the other, or else God is conflicted. The idea that Paul would be humbled, and kept focused on the kingdom of God by struggling with a sexual deviation, involves shaping Scripture to custom fit a preconceived idea. However, If Paul did struggle daily against sexual perversion, one can only wonder why he did not follow his own advice:

    Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Rom 12:2 NLT)

    When we stand before the Judgment Seat, we will have retained only two things from our earthly life: what God gave us, and what we did with what He gave us.

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    • #3
      Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

      One thing is established by scripture. When a man or woman is found in a matter that is offensive, God wants it to stay hidden. When Noah's son saw his nakedness and reported it to his other brothers God's response was swift and devastating. The son of Noah's son, Ham, and his offspring, was to be cursed. And so they were.

      In Matthew 18, concerning the Church life, if a brother offends, the first line of the solution is a secret meeting to effect admission of guilt and subsequent forgiveness. If this fails the next move is a semi-secret meeting with only the witnesses privy to the proceedings. Only when there is no admission of guilt is the Assembly to be informed.

      In other scriptures in the letters we are advised to follow this same procedure. It is to "restore"a brother. Is it not comforting that the Holy Spirit is true to His own commands and never divulged Paul's "thorn"? So many Christians have "thorns", small and great. These are never removed, but God is graceful to keep them secret, and their dignity intact.

      I think that if God wants Paul's "thorn" kept secret, it might be a good idea not to speculate. This is not a judgment on the poster, for all scripture is open to discussion. It is just a viewpoint of scripture that might spare some tears later. In many Churches one will find so-called "Councillors" who actively seek out all the "dirt" among the saints and deem to be "advisors" to them. These "Councillors" are not found in scripture. Rather the contrary.

      Remember Ham.

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      • #4
        Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

        To answer the OP, No.

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        • #5
          Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

          Reading Corinthians 7 makes me think he was kinda prudish about sex generally.

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          • #6
            Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

            Originally posted by Fenris View Post
            Reading Corinthians 7 makes me think he was kinda prudish about sex generally.
            Actually, Paul is pretty straightforward that if you gotta have it, get married and get it on. Often.

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            • #7
              Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

              Originally posted by RabbiKnife View Post
              Actually, Paul is pretty straightforward that if you gotta have it, get married and get it on. Often.
              Right, but he also says "I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am..." arguing for a celibate life I guess.

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              • #8
                Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

                Originally posted by Fenris View Post
                Right, but he also says "I say this as a concession, not as a command. I wish that all of you were as I am..." arguing for a celibate life I guess.
                Agreed. My take on that has always been that he really didn't expect to survive his mission. After all, beaten a gazillion times, etc., etc., Tough gig for a wife to have to endure.

                I think Paul's celibacy was a vocational issue, not a sexuality issue.

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                • #9
                  Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

                  Originally posted by RabbiKnife View Post
                  I think Paul's celibacy was a vocational issue, not a sexuality issue.
                  Then why does he say "I wish that all of you were as I am."

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                  • #10
                    Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

                    Originally posted by Fenris View Post
                    Then why does he say "I wish that all of you were as I am."
                    I think he was so consumed with the Gospel that he wanted everyone to be as free from earthly burdens as he was , including wives. I believe that Paul thought that Jesus would return bodily very quickly, possibly before the end of his life. I think that's why he told everyone "as far as I am concerned, don't try to change your marital status. Just not enough time."

                    That is just my opinion, of course.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

                      Originally posted by RabbiKnife View Post
                      I think he was so consumed with the Gospel that he wanted everyone to be as free from earthly burdens as he was
                      Ehhh maybe. Not what I thought when I first saw it.

                      To be without a wife and kids is not considered a good thing in Judaism. "Be fruitful and multiply" and all that. In fact, one could not be a member of the Sanhedrin if they were childless; it was assumed that raising children gave a person more gentleness and humility. So Paul was an unusual character however we look at it.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

                        Originally posted by RabbiKnife View Post
                        I think he was so consumed with the Gospel that he wanted everyone to be as free from earthly burdens as he was , including wives. I believe that Paul thought that Jesus would return bodily very quickly, possibly before the end of his life. I think that's why he told everyone "as far as I am concerned, don't try to change your marital status. Just not enough time."

                        That is just my opinion, of course.
                        In my OP, I should have made it clear that none of the articles I read on this topic, if he did indeed struggle with homosexuality, suggested that he acted on those desires. He was just very outspoken on the topic, which would suggest a struggle he either overcame or continued to deal it with based on their opinion. Paul speaks in the larger context about a constant war. He claims sin dwells in his “members,” or his bodily parts. However, he attempts to control these members with the “law of his mind” that seems to be often failing him.
                        I know what I know
                        I know what I don't know
                        I don't know what I don't know.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

                          Originally posted by Nick View Post
                          In my OP, I should have made it clear that none of the articles I read on this topic, if he did indeed struggle with homosexuality, suggested that he acted on those desires. He was just very outspoken on the topic, which would suggest a struggle he either overcame or continued to deal it with based on their opinion. Paul speaks in the larger context about a constant war. He claims sin dwells in his “members,” or his bodily parts. However, he attempts to control these members with the “law of his mind” that seems to be often failing him.
                          Hopefully you're not taking any of this seriously, but are only pondering. Personally I wouldn't waste any of my time pondering this even. Speaking for myself, the entire notion is nonsense. Not one time since I started reading the Bible have I ever gotten the impression Paul may have been gay, And I'm not about to entertain that impossibility now. Seriously, what does homosexuality have to do with Paul? Absolutely nothing, the fact he was a blessed saint of God, and that homosexuality is an abomination to God. That then falls into the category of the following, homosexuality that is.

                          Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

                          It fits this part..and the abominable. That part does not fit Paul, thus Paul never struggled with being gay..ever.


                          Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

                          God has not changed His mind about this, nor will He ever. That doesn't mean homosexuals couldn't be saved. But they would have to give up that lifestyle altogether, otherwise they continue to commit an abomination, which then leads back to what Revelation 21:8 says. One can't have it both ways. One can't continue homosexual acts and be saved at the same time, since that contradicts what Leviticus 20:13 and Revelation 21:8 says. Thus Paul was not gay, nor ever struggled with it period. That doesn't mean Paul was perfect or anything. It just means he wasn't struggling with abominable acts, such as homosexuality.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

                            Originally posted by Nick View Post
                            In my OP, I should have made it clear that none of the articles I read on this topic, if he did indeed struggle with homosexuality, suggested that he acted on those desires. He was just very outspoken on the topic, which would suggest a struggle he either overcame or continued to deal it with based on their opinion. Paul speaks in the larger context about a constant war. He claims sin dwells in his “members,” or his bodily parts. However, he attempts to control these members with the “law of his mind” that seems to be often failing him.
                            Poppycock. Someone with an agenda went and wrote an article. There is nothing in Pauline writing to suggest that he had an issue with homosexuality. He just happened to be living in a world where homosexuality was on every streetcorner and celebrated in pagan temples of worship. It is a primary sexual deviance that he had to warn his Christian friends about. Paul really didn't talk about homosexuality much at all compared to everything else he wrote about.

                            I can be outspoken against a particular sin, but that has nothing to do with whether I struggle with that same sin. That's just silliness.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Do you think Paul struggled with homosexuality?

                              It could be argued that Paul was a widower who had been given the gift of celibacy ( a genuine gift of freedom from sexual need ) far more easily than that he was a closet gay. The very idea that Paul was a homosexual seems asinine to me.

                              RabbiKnife and Sojourner hit the nail right on the head in their answers.
                              Day by day
                              Oh Dear Lord
                              Three things I pray
                              To see thee more clearly
                              Love thee more dearly
                              Follow thee more nearly
                              Day by day

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