Jude 7 & homos sarx
Question from James Michael on 06-10-2003:

Dear Father Echert,

I was wondering if I could pass something by you concerning an interpretation of Jude 7 and its mention of 'strange' or 'different' flesh. I picked it up on the internet and thought it had the 'ring of truth' , but wanted to pass it by some people first.

I bring it up because some pro-homosexualists say Jude could have used the words 'homo sarx' (same flesh) vs what he used 'different flesh' or 'strange flesh' if he wanted to refer to homosexuals. I am also aware the condemnation of homosexuality occurs before the mention of strange flesh in that the fornication carries the connotation of perverse fornication. Nevertheless, I thought the following was interesting:

"it is likely that Jude wrote his letter against the background of the teaching of Jesus, known both to him and his readers, so that he had in mind the citation by Jesus (Matthew 19:5) of Genesis 2:24, that the man and the woman "shall become one flesh", to which (Matthew 19:6) Jesus appends his own comment that "they are no longer two but one flesh". On this basis the "different" flesh of Jude 7 means "different from that laid down in the OT and endorsed by the Lord Jesus", i.e., the one-flesh relationship of marriage. Thus the "different flesh" would be a reference to homosexuality (the first part of Jude 7 verse refers to Sodom and Gomorrah) and could possibly extend even to bestiality (verse 10 refers to these people as acting as "irrational animals"). That is, different from the God-given provision of a spouse for the fulfillment of one's sexual nature, in the one-flesh of marriage. Thus Homo sarx may not have been used because it would have confused ‘same sex’ with the ‘one flesh’ of Genesis and Jesus amd taken away from the point Jude was trying to make about contrasting 'one-flesh' with 'different flesh'. Also,Verse 8 would thus link with this. The flesh that these dreamers defile (by their immoral behaviour) is not their own bodies but the one-flesh marriage relationship. And the authority which they reject would be the authority of the Lord in what he taught was the right and undefiled fulfilment of the "flesh" in the "one-flesh" relationship of marriage.

Answer by Fr. John Echert on 06-11-2003:

Excellent analysis in light of the words of Jesus and the Genesis account of creation of man and woman for each other. Some modern scholars take the position that "other flesh" refers to the Sodomite demand for the angels--and pro-homosexual revisionists advance this position as well. But given that angels do not have "flesh" plus the fact that the Sodomites did not know that they were angels, not to mention all else that the Bible teaches against homosexuality, there can be no doubt but that the Sacred Scriptures condemn homosexuality.

Here is an article that I just completed on this topic, for a local Catholic paper for which I write:

“The sin of Sodom was the sin of inhospitality.” The first time I heard this modern interpretation of the ancient account—and I have heard this view expressed many times since—I thought that I must have misheard the speaker, or that he was attempting sarcastic humor. Certainly, the attempted homosexual rape of visitors in a city was lacking in hospitality, even by ancient standards. But did inhospitality warrant the fiery destruction of two entire cities and the surrounding area, with all of their inhabitants, by divine chastisement? Can you imagine a defendant in a rape trial arguing that his crime was no more than inhospitality to his victim? What an outrage!

In countering this misrepresentation of the sin of Sodom, the first consideration should be the context itself, and what preceded the destruction of this city. The text of Genesis reveals that prior to any act of “inhospitality” by its citizens against the two visiting men—in reality, angels--the men of Sodom were described as “wicked, great sinners against the Lord.” In fact, the angels of the Lord were in the city to verify the fact of its depravity, wherein not even ten righteous men were to be found, for which the Lord would have withheld the Almighty Hand of destruction, at the pleading of Abraham. And beyond the immediate context, following the principle that Sacred Scripture often provides interpretation of itself, we have other biblical texts that illuminate the nature of the wickedness of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. Under the later Mosaic Law, active homosexuality was described as an abomination, which required the execution of those who engaged in it, as we read in the Book of Leviticus:

“If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them.” (20:13)

The New Testament provides even more guidance on this moral matter, especially in the writings of Saint Paul. In his well-known Epistle to the Romans, the Apostle describes active homosexuality as an abomination that defies the natural order of creation, which follows from a failure to honor the one true God:

“The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring 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! Amen. For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.” (1:18-27)

Beyond this, the Apostle typically includes homosexuality in his lists of vices that preclude someone from entering the Kingdom of God. As we read in his First Epistle to the Corinthians:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God.” (Note: the original Greek uses two words to describe the active and passive partners of a homosexual relationship, here rendered simply “homosexuals”) (6:9-10)

Finally, in examining biblical texts, we should note that the sin of the two cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and their utter destruction is frequently cited in the Bible as an example of wickedness and punishment, as we read, for instance, in the Epistle of Saint Jude:

“Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, in like manner, having given themselves to fornication and indulging in unnatural lust, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.” (1:7)

So we see that the New Testament is completely consistent with the Old Testament, and even advances moral teaching and warning, with regards to active homosexuality. This sin is an abomination that is contrary to the order of creation and it violates human nature. Those who engaged in this behavior in Old Testament times were condemned to physical death, and those who engage in it in this final Covenant period condemn themselves to immediate spiritual death and exclusion from the Kingdom of God in eternity, if they fail to repent of this sin.

The Church affirms and elaborates upon the natural law and biblical teaching with regards to active homosexuality. She also distinguishes between appropriate pastoral care to assist those who struggle with same sex attraction to live chaste lives and wrongful methods that attempt to offer moral justification to homosexual activity. As expressed by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

“In the pastoral field, homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts that lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God. This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.” ("Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics,” 1975)

Thanks, James

Father Echert