Homosexuality in Scripture
What Is Man? is a new book – new anyway in English, having been published at the end of 2019 in Italian as Che cosa è l’uomo? – from the Pontifical Biblical Commission. As such, it has no identified author or authors. (The English version was prepared by Fathers Fearghus O’Fearghail and Adrian Graffy.) It carries the subtitle, A Journey through Biblical Anthropology and is a defense of the Biblical roots of Catholicism’s view of human beings and our relationship to God.
When first published, there was a flurry of rumors in the press claiming that the book (either subtly or explicitly) suggested homosexuality should be considered normative. Fr. James Martin, for one, asserted that What Is Man? explains one of the Bible’s key condemnations of homosexual acts, the story of the destruction of Sodom in Genesis, as not really about sexual transgression at all but, rather, a lack of hospitality among the Sodomites. And there is a passage in What Is Man? that confirms the sins of the Sodomites were not exclusively, well, sodomy. But it’s also clear that the “men of Sodom” sought to “know” Lot and his angelic visitors, and that “to know” in the context “is a euphemism for sexual relations.”
What Is Man? Is divided into four long chapters: 1. The Human Being Created by God; 2. The Human Being in the Garden; 3. The Human Family; and 4. The Human Being in History. I’m going to consider here just a part of that third chapter, because it’s the source of the controversy that wasn’t. This is unfair to the entirety of Commission’s work, but let me explain.